Agent Cody Banks
3 out of 5 stars
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This goofy teen spy comedy is actually one of the better action movies of the past year, blowing XXX out of the water, for example, with a much better story, more coherent action and better stunts and effects!

Cody Banks (Muniz) is a 15-year-old in Seattle who, unbeknownst to his parents (Stevenson and Roebuck) is actually a member of a CIA spy kids programme. He's called up to befriend Natalie (Duff), the daughter of a befuddled scientist (Donovan) who has fallen in with a seriously bad guy (McShane) and his evil henchman (Vosloo). But while the CIA trained Cody in driving, fighting and gadgetry, they never taught him how to overcome his shyness around girls!

This film has a surprisingly grown-up feel to it, never talking down to its audience, which makes it more entertaining for everyone watching. Zwart (One Night at McCool's) seems to know exactly what he's doing behind the camera, juggling the comedy and action with just enough drama and subtext to make it more than just a silly kids flick.

Meanwhile, Muniz is getting more watchable as he grows up; he fits much more comfortably into this character than in previous films, and shows promising timing and physicality. Harmon is hilarious as every teen boy's fantasy of a bombshell secret agent. And Duff makes a much better female teen lead than most of these kinds of films; she's actually a strong character all her own, even if she's never given much to do. In fact, the whole supporting cast is superior--making the most of their characters (I especially enjoyed David's oily, smirking CIA director).

But basically, this is just a sophisticated and extremely entertaining "teenagent" take on the James Bond genre, and it's the best action comedy we've seen in a long, long time. So much so that I may actually be looking forward to the sequel. Which is something I can't say about XXX.

cert PG themes, violence, innuendo 27.Apr.03

dir Harald Zwart
scr Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
with Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Keith David, Arnold Vosloo, Ian McShane, Martin Donovan, Connor Widdows, Cynthia Stevenson, Daniel Roebuck, Marc Shelton, Chris Gauthier
release US 14.Mar.03; UK 25.Jul.03
03/US 1h42

Spy babe. Cody tries to sweet-talk his CIA handler Ronica (Harmon and Muniz)

muniz duff vosloo

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... get the girl, save the world, pass math Serena Plant, Sheffield: 5/5 "I found it really good, because i loved all the stunts and the special effects. one part that i liked about the special affects was when Cody had to jump from the metal stairs that start to melt away. I loved Frankie Muniz in Malcom in the middle, and I loved Hilary Duff in Lizzy Mcguire, and she is also good in The Lizzy Mcguire Movie. Can't wait to go and see Agent Cody Banks 2 at the cinemas when that gets released." (27.Feb.04)

tayo, nigeria: 5/5 "nothin too bad about the guy, he is a nice actor, he acts his rolls well, i think he should learn more how to speak to girls." (17.Apr.07)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall