Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker


AKA: Stormbreaker

Year of release: 2006

Genre: action

Director: Geoffrey Sax

Action directors: Donnie Yen, Paul Heasman, Des Hills

Producers: Steve Christian, Andreas Grosch, Marc Samuelson, Peter Samuelson

Writer: Anthony Horowitz

Cinematography: Chris Seager

Editing: Andrew MacRitchie

Music: Alan Parker

Stars: Alex Pettyfer, Mickey Rourke, Alicia Silverstone, Andy Serkis, Missi Pyle, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry, Robbie Coltrane

Rated PG for mild violence

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Before joining the top tier of Hong Kong actors with 2008's Ip Man, Donnie Yen found himself stuck in a bit of a rut. He had found some success at home, but his reputation and uneven returns at the local box office had hurt his career, so he turned to working on western productions, such as 2006's Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, where he directed two fight scenes.

The actual fight scenes are short and don't really involve any talent that you would consider an action star, unless you can buy Alicia Silverstone as a kung fu master. But they are decent for what they are, especially the one with Alex Pettyfer using a rope as a not-so-lethal weapon. It's not all that violent because this is a kids movie -- it's based on a series of popular teen novels -- where the harshest swear word is "heck" and no one gets hurt all that much, except for Mickey Rourke's face as he goes through another round of plastic surgery.

Sadly, the fights -- as brief as they are -- are this movie's only highlight. Yes, this is a teen fantasy fulfillment picture, but even those can be fun at times. This one is not. With a story shamelessly ripped off from the James Bond Jr. cartoon series and acting that alternates between wooden (star Pettyfer, who looks more concerned about keeping his makeup from running than delivering his lines with any sort of human emotion) and hammy (as seen by Bill Nighy, who seems to be taking the piss at disabled people by throwing in strange tics into his character) most people over the age of eleven are going to have a tough time sitting through this picture.

It doesn't help that the audience is treated to some of the most annoyingly obvious product placement since The Wizard. This time though, Alex doesn't use a Power Glove, he has a Nintendo DS packed with cartridges with special powers... and Mario Kart DS -- which coincidentally had just come out around the time this movie was released. Basically, this is everything a kids movie shouldn't be. It's loud, shallow, and pandering, ending up being more of a shameless attempt to capitalize on the base product while schilling additional trinkets for tots to clamor for from their beleagured parental units.