'Alex Rider' Review: The teenage British spy is back in a slick, intense and impressive thriller series
The only thought this leaves the audience with is — 'Why wasn't this series made back then instead of that woeful film?'
'Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker' starring Alex Pettyfer, Mickey Rourke and Damian Lewis bombed quite spectacularly when it released in 2006. The backlash that followed overshadowed all the efforts that went into making the film. Even more stinging was the fact that author Anthony Horowitz labeled it as one of his disappointments.
The books were, and are, still a smashing success. Alex Rider's journey as the teen spy working for the Special Operations Division of the MI6 was supposed to end after 10 books. It didn't. He was back in action again in 'Nightshade', a novel that released earlier this year. And 14 years after the 'Stormbreaker' debacle, Alex Rider is brought back to life on the small screen. This time, the flaws are corrected, the storyline concrete and the cast near damn perfect, making the series a compelling watch.
Horowitz is the executive producer of the series and that probably explains the sheer detailing that's gone into the making of the series. Otto Farrant's Alex Rider matches the description from the books — Athletic-build, intense eyes but easy-going by nature, and definitely someone who was forced to be a spy. The opening scenes of the series firmly establishes the fact that this series is all about borrowing as much it can from the book. Based on 'Point Blanc', the series also makes some major changes when it comes to character introductions.
'Point Blanc' is the second book in the series, but it mixes a few storylines from 'Stormbreaker', the first novel. This may probably be for those unaware of the books. The pilot episode is all about setting the context. It might be slow off the blocks, but is stylish and fervently attempts to bring Horowitz's writing to life. Alex and his best mate Tom (Brenock O’Connor) are just like most schoolboys — looking to get through classes, hang out, party, and well, you know how it works.
The death of Ian Rider (Andrew Rider), a rather mysterious man, plunges Alex and his housekeeper, Jack Starbright (Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo) into grief. Even as the teen attempts to process the death, he also starts getting suspicious about it. He follows up on certain clues he unearths and that leads him straight to Alan Blunt (Stephen Dillane) and Mrs Jones (Vicky McClure). The pair reveal that Ian was indeed working for them and as convenient as it may seem, they have a job for Alex.
Point Blanc is a Swiss boarding school meant for troubled teens. Ian dies investigating it and now Alex's mission is to infiltrate it. With age by his side and physically capable of handling himself, he's the SO's next James Bond. Honestly, the comparison has never felt to be a stretch. That said, the series, in an attempt to create a more polished version, makes use of just about every resource and technology available to make it more realistic, believable and hard-hitting.
The cast is diverse. The tone fluctuates between dark and intensely dark and the London shown is very much the London of the books. Cold, icy, very English, and at the same time the gadgets that made the book a hot favorite does justice even though they're a little too good. But if building credibility was one of the missions, safe to say, the series has done it.
The first thought that comes in after finishing the season is the possibility of potential sequels. There are 12 books, so even if the overwhelming response garners a nod for two more installments, there's an opportunity to keep getting better with each attempt. Those who have read the books know there's enough material to actually spawn enough sequels. The only thought this leaves the audience with is — "Why wasn't this series made back then instead of that woeful film?"
'Alex Rider' is available on Amazon Prime.