It’s not that Stormbreaker is a terrible film. It obviously had a decent enough budget; was able to draw big names like Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry and Robbie Coltrane; and succeeds in certain things – like its action sequences. Stormbreaker fails however because it lacks and does not maintain a required level of seriousness.
When Alex Rider’s (Alex Pettyfer) uncle Ian Rider dies suddenly, in a car crash while on a business trip, he soon discovers that Ian (Ewan McGregor) was no ordinary businessman: he was a top spy for the British agency MI6 and his death was in fact a murder. During the little time he did spend with his nephew he was able to train young Alex, without him knowing it, in the ways of the spy trade. So, when Alex is approached by his uncle’s employers to undertake a mission involving a revolutionary new computer, called the Stormbreaker, and with a chance to bring Ian’s killer/s to justice he accepts.
I understand that Stormbreaker is not intended to be as serious as James Bond’s latest outing; that it is meant to be fun, but at some point in this film I got the impression that I was on the outside of an inside joke between the filmmakers and the cast.
It’s like watching a school play in which the audience is made up largely of students from the school – who know the people on that stage well. They not only see the performance itself, but also pick up on quirks, inside jokes and past experiences with the actors. An audience member who is not familiar with the people on stage will not experience the same level of enjoyment. This appears to be the problem with Stormbreaker.
Director Geoffrey Sax has clearly given himself and his cast permission to have fun on set but at some point the enjoyment they had becomes too insular – and we’re left feeling left out. Sax seems to have lost an objective perspective. Stormbreaker, as a result, and I can’t think of a better term, becomes incredibly lame. Slipping from what should have been premium class kids’ entertainment – enjoyed by both adults and children alike – to the kind of second rate drivel shown on e.tv on a Friday afternoon.
Stormbreaker also fails because it rarely separates its light-hearted moments from its serious set pieces; everything is mashed together. Villains are never just villains; they have to be funny villains or ridiculous looking villains (case in point Mickey Rourke). Director Sax seems to have forgotten that his target demographic have been sitting through Harry Potter films for the past few years; films that do not pull any punches when it comes to serious subject matter and scares. In not wanting to harm the ‘delicate’ and ‘fragile’ nature of the children who will see Stormbreaker Sax has ended up hurting his movie.
Stormbreaker, despite my barrage of negativity, is not all bad and should be a decent enough afternoon outing for the kids, but adults will, like I did, struggle to stay interested. I would rather watch Richard Grieco in Teen Agent again, anytime.