Agent Cody Banks

Agent Cody Banks


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A new territory has emerged in the last few years - it's called Zone Spy Kids, or ZSK.

The way it works is this: anything that happens in real time, or RT, can happen in ZSK, the only difference being age differential.

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RT can be in-your-face and there are moments when you don't need such intensity. Two of the better things about ZSK is that it doesn't take itself seriously and the "i" word has been banished from the lexicon.

Agent Cody Banks is a fine example of the genre, with Frankie Muniz playing the boy who went to CIA summer camp and is now on their books as available for duty. Of course, he's not entirely aware of this, continuing life as normal in a standard suburban Californian home, where his younger brother (an impressive Connor Widdows) gives him a hard time and mom'n'pop are somehow there in the muddied middle of his consciousness.

Meanwhile, in ZSK a dastardly Englishman, called Brinkman (Ian McShane), has kidnapped an absent-minded scientist (Martin Donovan), who is in the process of inventing genetic robots that will eat metal faster than a swarm of locusts do justice to a field of corn. In the hands of Brinkman and his corps of faceless henchhulks in their Dr No uniforms, the Pentagon's weapons of mass destruction would be in danger of being gobbled.

The CIA agent (David Keith), in charge of thwarting Brinkman's plans, believes that everything depends on getting close to Natalie (Hilary Duff), the scientist's teenage daughter. He sends the svelte Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon) - a Bond girl if ever there was one - to connect Cody with the girl, so that he can discover her dad's new address. Where they misjudge the situ is that Cody only pretended to be a Romeo at summer camp and is, in RT, shy as a deer in the presence of beauty.

Nothing is allowed to remain static for two seconds and quite soon Cody is kick boxing like Jackie Chan's grandson and finding time to get to know the lovely Natalie in an active sense. Muniz is inches away from being a weedy wetnose, with his little face and whiny smile, but he has a personality that cuts out preconception, replacing it with respect. The boy has style.

In the territory of ZSK, absurd plots are encouraged, half-crazed baddies applauded and teenagers allowed to stay up late. In RT, life goes on and stress levels destroy romance. Of the two, ZSK is a whole lot more fun.

Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2003
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A teenage CIA agent attempts to thwart a dastardly plan to set metal-eating robots loose in US.
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Director: Harald Zwart

Writer: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski

Starring: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Daniel Roebuck, Martin Donovan, Ian McShane, Connor Widdows

Year: 2003

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/Canada


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