Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

Starring Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearitt. Directed by Kevin Allen.
Running Time: 96 minutes
Rated: PG

This time around teen-agent Cody Banks (Muniz) is packed off to summer camp by his unsuspecting mum and dad. The CIA, however, runs this summer school for child spies. While at camp the Commander Diaz (Keith Allan) turns on the USA and steals a top-secret plan for mind control, which is being perfected by the evil Lord Kenworth (James Faulkner) in England. Cody is sent to London to stop Kenworth and Diaz by joining an international youth orchestra based at the Lord's country estate.

It is a rare sequel that is better than the original, but this one is. But that's not saying all that much. Given the success of Agent Cody Banks 1 the producers have thrown even more money at this film and it shows. Not that the story is any better, or that the acting has improved, but Kevin Allen's directing of the action sequences is good, and Richard Holland's production designs, sets and locations raise the bar for a teen flick.

Maybe one of the ways they paid for this film was through the product placement. Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, the Millennium Wheel, London House of Horrors, Pepsi, and Heinz Ketchup must have paid large amounts for the exposure of their brands. Shameful in a kid's film.

Worst of all this time around is the caricature of the English. There is not a cliché left unused about them in Cody Banks 2. They are made out to be silly, prissy and eccentric.

And even if the English can forgive the Americans for the racial stereotyping, they could never forgive the fact that Big Ben strikes the hour even though we see the famous clock's face in the background telling us it is twenty past four. How can such an expensive film have such bad continuity?

There is some unintended humour, too, like the motorcade driving into Buckingham Palace to see the Queen, but the shot is held long enough for us to see it drive past the (closed) front gates. Or the famous conductor of the orchestra who handles a baton as though he is having an epileptic seizure.

With the obligatory palace dance sequence, and some decent look-alikes for the Queen and Prime Minster, but curiously not for the President of the USA, the ending is predictable and upbeat.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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