Agent Cody Banks

There are two humongous lines in this world; the pre-pubescent teens queuing to scream at the latest no-talent manufactured band and the queue of James Bond rip-offs. Agent Cody Banks is the latest in the line of Bond rip-offs and much in the style of Spy Kids.

Frankie Muniz (better known as Malcolm from the highly entertaining Malcolm in the Middle TV series) is Cody Banks, a normal high school kid. He lives in Seattle with his bratty brother and ‘We know best’ parents and spends his time skateboarding, arguing with his brother and doing his chores.

However, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Cody. He is a highly trained ‘sleeper’ agent for the CIA. His parents have no idea and believed that they were sending him to Summer Camp, but in fact it was a CIA training camp.

The teenage Sleeper is finally woken when an evil megalomaniac Brinkman (Ian McShane) kidnaps one of Americas’ top scientists Dr Connors (Martin Donovan) and forces him to work on a devastating weapon. The weapon is a form of nanotechnology enabling the creation of Nanobots, tiny robots which can eat through almost anything – including missile guidance systems. Brinkman intends to use the Nanobots to destroy the US military defense systems.

When Cody is woken by his handler, Ronica Miles (sultry Angie Harmon), his assignment is to get close to Dr Connors teenage daughter Natalie (Hilary Duff) and find out what he can. Unfortunately, although the CIA spent $10 million on training Cody in spy techniques, they neglected to teach him anything about the fairer sex. With time running out and Brinkman’s evil henchman Arnold Vosloo) on his tail, Cody has to get to the bottom of the investigation before it’s too late.

Agent Cody Banks has everything that a Bond film has – the underground lair, buxom women, evil henchmen, gadgets and cool cars – albeit on a much more child orientated scale. Director Harold Zwart made a wise choice in casting Frankie Muniz as playing a kid who appears normal but in fact is actually very special seems to come naturally to him - its not a million miles away from his Malcolm in the Middle character.

The performances are okay and fit well within the film. Almost every extra character is a little over the top from the stereotypical Chinese driving instructor to most of the CIA agents. Luckily Frankie Muniz doesn’t have to carry the film by himself as he has some very entertaining fellow cast members. Pick of the bunch is the ever reliable Keith David as the CIA Director and the gorgeous Angie Harmon who shows that Baywatch Nights hasn’t stopped her from having a knack for comedy. Ian McShane, better known in the UK as Lovejoy, camps it up as the villain of the piece with Arnold Vosloo as his typically insane and scarred henchman.

For a children’s film it does have a certain appeal for adults, so taking the kids along isn’t that much of a chore. There is even a fart joke or two in amongst the ‘hidden’ gags – such as the tannoy system in the CIA Headquarters saying (almost unnoticed in the background) things like “Will the owner of the silver Aston Martin please move your car”.  

Agent Cody Banks should appeal to the whole family – kids would like the action and cartoonish approach to things and parents (well….Dads really) will like the fact that Hilary Duff seems to have the tightest school uniform known to man and that Angie Harmon spends much of her time in very tight clothes and showing a very impressive cleavage. Everyone’s a winner!

Score 7/10