Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

cast: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Cynthia Stevenson, Daniel Roebuck, and Keith Allen

director: Kevin Allen

96 minutes (PG) 2004 widescreen ratio 16:9
MGM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart

The teenage spy returns in this second entry in this pleasant series. This time round, Frankie Muniz’s diminutive CIA operative is sent to London as part of a youth orchestra to stop Keith Allen’s former trainer and the mind control device he’s stolen.

The very fact that the plot revolves around a mind control device should give you a good idea of where this is going. The same genial tone as the first movie is present here, with Muniz’s terrifyingly competent teen fighting evil, failing miserably to impress girls and struggling to keep his identity secret. It’s very similar ground to the first film but is livened up by several new factors. Not the least of these is the change of location. The London locations are well used, in particular during a fantastic chase sequence through a lab and much of the film has a real sense of place.

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It’s a genuine achievement given how ubiquitous the city has become in modern cinema but it works and gives the film more than a slight hint of the Bond movies at times.

The supporting characters also help matters immensely. Anthony Anderson is a consistently funny presence in any film, capable of carrying a scene without ever stealing it and that’s exactly what he does here. Where previous outings have allowed him to showcase his verbal comedy here it’s almost purely physical and it pays off beautifully. Towering over the diminutive Muniz, Anderson automatically looks funny and almost always is. There’s even a nice twist to the double act when the pair are forced to fight as part of the wonderfully over the top finale at Buckingham Palace.

Hanna Spearritt, a former member of pop group S Club 7 also impresses. She’s the perfect foil to Muniz’s Cody, arch where he’s clumsy and relaxed where he’s frantic. Again, they’re a good double-act and, again, their interaction has more than a hint of Cody’s older (007) counterpart to it. If anything, this is more gender balanced than the Bond movies with Spearritt’s character instrumental in saving the day, instead of spending the end of the film strapped to a conveniently placed death ray. Finally, Keith Allen puts in good work as Diaz, an utterly amoral and in one scene genuinely frightening former CIA agent. Pursuing Cody through the streets of London with a micro rocket launcher, he’s calm, dedicated and quite clearly wants his target dead. A cut above the usual villain for this kind of thing, Allen is the final seal of quality on a genuinely superior sequel.

Whilst some of it is pure stereotype, Destination London is one of the most entertaining family adventure movies of the last couple of years. Smart, very funny and with a knowing sense of humour, it’s great fun from start to finish.