Directed by Harald Zwart, starring Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Ian McShane, Arnold Vosloo and Martin Donovan.

He's trained in espionage, he's a master of unarmed combat, he can put a car through its paces better than most getaway drivers. He's 15 and he has no girlfriend. He's Cody Banks (Muniz), the CIA's latest juvenile recruit and the world's best hope against perma-tanned crackpot criminal Brinkman (McShane).

Cody's mission is to find out why acclaimed scientist Connors (Donovan) is helping Brinkman. And to get to the truth will require guts, brains and, er, dating.

Connors' daughter Natalie (Duff) is a student at a swanky Washington school and the CIA reckons if Cody becomes her classmate, he can win her heart and then find out what her Dad is up to. His handlers have given Cody the plan, the gadgets, the mentor (Harmon) and the back-up - can the budget stretch to a few confidence classes?

Like last year's 'Big Fat Liar', '...Cody Banks' shows Muniz to be one of the most likeable young actors around - all he needs is better scripts. While this film could never be dubbed 'The Spy Who Bugged Me' it doesn't match the warmth and invention so linked with the 'Spy Kids' series.

The film begins in great style with Banks rescuing a baby who is trapped in a car rolling backwards through Seattle but the ensuing action never equals the grandstand opening and recalls many movies that have gone before.

However, through the teen traumas and so-so set pieces Muniz, Duff and Harmon are always watchable - in Harmon's case very - and if they get a better storyline in the now-filming sequel, next summer could hold a few surprises.

This may be a case of mission unaccomplished, but the future looks brighter for Cody Banks than it does for Austin Powers.

Harry Guerin