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Dustin Putman

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Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004)

Directed by Kevin Allen
Cast: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt, Anna Chancellor, Keith Allen, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Daniel Roebuck, Connor Widdows, Sarah McNicholas, James Faulkner
2004 – 99 minutes
Rated: Rated PG (for mild violence and some crude humor).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, March 13, 2004.

2003's "Agent Cody Banks" may have been disposable entertainment, but at least there was a certain level of enjoyment to be had in its confident tween spin of the "007" formula. Likewise, its derivative premise is a veritable groundbreaker in comparison to "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London," a junky, creatively bankrupt rush job of a sequel that has no connection to the original outside of the title character.

As "Agent Cody Banks" ended, teenage CIA agent Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) and main squeeze Natalie (Hilary Duff) finally got to ride off into the sunset together after saving the world from a megalomaniac. A year later, Natalie (and Duff, whose respective film career has since taken off) is MIA, her whereabouts and their relationship never even passingly mentioned. Instead, 16-year-old Cody is at a deceptively generic summer camp that is really a secret CIA training camp. His latest mission—he must stop a crazed scientist (Keith Allen) from releasing his dangerous mind control devices upon the world population—leads he and his new handler, Derek (Anthony Anderson), to London where he must pose as a talented clarinet player at a boarding school. While there, Cody also befriends Emily (Hannah Spearritt), a fellow student who has some undercover secrets of her own.

Drearily directed by Kevin Allen, "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London" is a bird-brained excuse to squeeze more dollars out of the marketplace while not introducing anything that wasn't done better—and on a larger scale—in its predecessor. The obvious decrease in budget and production values aren't the only inferior elements of this follow-up, which has no notable action sequences and an inert pace that seems to drag on for days. In my review of "Agent Cody Banks," I mentioned that the 105-minute running time flew by, feeling more like 60. In the case of "Agent Cody Banks 2," its 99 minutes feels like an eternity. Of all of 2004's releases thus far, no film has tested my patience quite like this despicably unctuous one did.

After two movies, Cody Banks remains a wafer-thin creation with no depth or discernible charisma. At the mercy of the horridly lazy screenplay by Don Rhymer (2002's "The Santa Clause 2"), he is a snooze-inducing hero who says and does nothing of interest. Eternally childlike 18-year-old Frankie Muniz (2002's "Big Fat Liar") may fit comfortably within the confines of TV's "Malcolm and the Middle," but he has not yet shown that he has any sort of range as an actor. He simply plays the same character over and over and cashes a big paycheck for not doing anything. You also know you are in trouble when the usually funny Anthony Anderson (2004's "My Baby's Daddy"), wasted as Cody's bumbling new handler, has trouble garnering a single laugh. Filling in the femme quotient for Hilary Duff (who, whether I want to admit it or not, is terribly missed) is Hannah Spearritt, a member of the British pop group S Club 7, as Emily. Spearritt is fine with what she is given, but her role is extraneous and the romance between she and Cody is barely touched upon.

Boring with a capital "B," aiming for the lowest-common-denominator with dim-witted fart and urine jokes, and capping it all off with the mother of all desperate movie scenes—yep, a food fight—"Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London" is shamefully pedestrian garbage passing itself off as quality family fun. From the laughless, thoroughly unoriginal screenplay, to the barely-there fight and chase scenes, to a simply interminable climax that won't end, there is nothing at all fun about "Agent Cody Banks 2." In fact, a full day of chores would be preferable to having to sit through this monstrosity again. If "Agent Cody Banks 3" ever sees the light of day (and I suspect director Keith Allen's ineptitude might have already ruined its chances), count me out.
© 2004 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman