In Review: Alex Rider – Season 1

A more grounded attempt at bringing the teen spy to the small-screen than the 2006 movie stormbreaker

Synopsis: When Alex Rider learns that his Uncle Ian has been killed in the line of duty as a British spy, everything changes for this otherwise normal teen. He is approached by MI6 who reveals that Alex has been unknowingly trained since childhood for the dangerous world of espionage.

 

The Story

When Alex Rider’s Uncle, Ian Rider dies when investigating a school called Point Blanc. Young Alex with his best mate Tom begins an investigate and learn that his Uncle was a Spy and not a banker as he’d always believed him to be. The two teens get caught while watching MI6 clear the scene and barely escape. Back at MI6 Alan Blunt the head of the department is impressed with young Alex and sets about recruiting him, but due to Alex’s reluctance to play ball. Blunt uses strong-arm tactics by threatening to have his friend Jack Starbright deported. Alex has little choice to agree to start working for MI6 as an agent who is uniquely qualified for the task of infiltrating Point Blanc as one of the troubled teens that the school is known for turning around. Alex is given the cover identity of Alex Friend who is from a prominent family from among England’s Wealthy Elite. His job is to find out what is going on at Point Blanc and report back. It’s a job that turns out to be far from easy.

 

The Acting

Otto Farrant provides a really confident performance that transcends the material as the unassuming Alex Rider, who gradually grows as the series goes on. I enjoyed the establishing scenes we see of young Alex hanging out with his best mate Tom (Brenock O’Connor), who is a wannabe filmmaker and obsessing fan of the classic Akira Kurosawa movies, which get referenced several times. It’s fun watching Tom totally geek out to Alex about the movies as well as their mutual interest in girls. These scenes do a lot to establish Alex as just a regular teenager, which is something he is far from as we get to see as the story unfolds.

Also putting in a great performance is Ronke Adekoluejo who did a great job as the fiercely loyal and protective Jack Starbright who is basically both housekeeper and mother figure to Alex. We get a cracking scene in episode three where she leaps with joy at the opportunity to use an MI6 credit card to give Alex a makeover as a rebellious teen from a wealthy background. I found the scene where they were getting his hair cut in a store, which doubled as a Tattoo Parlour and Body piercing place particularly funny.

When it comes to the villains of the piece Haluk Bilginer plays it rather cool as Point Blanc’s head Dr. Grief who has plans to engineer his own master race, and Ana Ularu is both mysterious and fierce as his enforcer and deputy ¬†Eva Stellenbosh.

Alex’s main ally in Point Blanc is Kyra who is played brilliantly by Marli Siu. Many of their scenes are in episodes 6 and 7 as they begin to hatch plans to escape from the school. I really enjoyed how Kyra was the only one of the students at the school that could see through Alex’s cover, which made for some interesting exchanges throughout as the two come to increasingly depend on each others skillsets in or to survive.

 

Overall

This was a fairly good stab at adapting the Alex Rider novels, but the script felt a little uninspired at certain points and lacked a little something. Based on the second Alex Rider book, which was titled ‘Point Blanc’ the story takes the origin part of Alex’s story from ‘Stormbreaker’ and stitches it into the plot. This takes up the best part of two episodes as we see Alex’s world change as he looks to get justice for his Uncle Ian. The writers probably chose not to adapt Stormbreaker due to the failure of the 2006 movie, which had heavy coverings of cheese in terms of its over the top James Bond trimmings. It’s quite fortunate that they did really because Stormbreaker focuses on a villainous plot to release a virus in order to cause a worldwide pandemic. So bullet well and truly dodged.

This adaptation of the Alex Rider character is much more grounded and falls somewhere between ‘James Bond’ and ‘Spooks’. We get all the classic spy tropes such as cryptic mysteries and references to things such as Hitler’s birthday and quotes from his book Mein Kampf being just a few of the clues, which help Alex figure out Dr. Griefs diabolical plan, which involves some rather fun science fiction tropes.

We get some nice action beats. One of which will have Bond fans cheering as Alex turns a simple ironing board into a snowboard.

Overall. A pretty entertaining series, which will hopefully prove popular enough to get a second series.

 

8.7
Alex Rider - Season 1
  • Story
    7.5
  • Acting
    9.2
  • CGI & Stunts
    9.5
  • Incidental Music
    8.5

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: [email protected]
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