Based on the bestselling children's books by Anthony Horowitz, 'Stormbreaker' is schoolboy fantasy writ large: 14-year-old British schoolboy Alex Rider is, albeit reluctantly, recruited by the Special Operations Division of MI6 for a top secret mission. It's James Bond on a junior scale, with similar gadgety-type things, explosions, narrow escapes and even some love interest in the form of Ireland's own Sarah Bolger ('Tara Road', 'In America').

After the sudden death of his bank manager uncle and guardian (McGregor), Alex's life gets turned upside down. At the funeral, accompanied by female family butler Jack (an unnecessary Silverstone), he meets MI6 agents Mr Blunt (Nighy) and Mrs Jones (Okonedo) who subsequently tell him that his supposedly boring uncle was actually killed in the line of duty. Persuaded to take up the slack, Alex infiltrates the nerve-centre of suspected evil-doer Darrius Sayle (Rourke, thoroughly hamming it up) and gets himself into some rather dodgy situations.

A thoroughly ridiculous storyline (little difference from the grown-up's Bond there) is almost saved by the quality of the cast. This is a world where Robbie Coltrane portrays the British Prime Minister; Stephen Fry crops up in Hamley's toy store as a Q-type character; a greyed-up Bill Nighy is an oddball civil servant and Missi Pyle plays a cartoonish henchwoman. Although Alex Pettyfer in the central role looks great and is very capable - often too capable - he's much more believable as a superspy than any kind of normal teenager. There are some lovely quirky touches - unusual camera angles, visual references - and the shots of London could all have come directly from the British Tourist Authority but 'Stormbreaker' never quite manages to become the sum of its parts. 

Caroline Hennessy