- Stormbreaker (film)
Directed by Geoffrey Sax Produced by Marc Samuelson
Written by Anthony Horowitz Starring Alex Pettyfer
Music by Alan Parker Cinematography Chris Seager Editing by Andrew MacRitchie Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
The Weinstein Company
Release date(s) United Kingdom
21 July, 2006
21 September, 2006
6 October, 2006
29 June, 2007
Running time 93 minutes Country Germany
Language English Budget £25,000,000 (estimated) Box office $23,937,870
Stormbreaker is a 2006 British spy film based on Anthony Horowitz's novel of the same name, the first novel in the Alex Rider series. It stars newcomer Alex Pettyfer as the teenage spy alongside actors Mickey Rourke and Bill Nighy. In the United States, the film was promotionally named Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker. The movie was intended to be the first of a series of Alex Rider movies, but due to poor box office returns no further Alex Rider movies have been made since.
Alex Rider (Alex Pettyfer) is a fourteen year-old orphan, who lives with his uncle Ian Rider (Ewan McGregor) and their housekeeper Jack Starbright (Alicia Silverstone). Ian is supposedly a bank manager and is, much to Alex's regret, often away from home. One day Alex is told that his uncle has died in a car crash. Alex subsequently discovers that Ian Rider was in fact a spy working for MI6 and that he was killed by famed assassin, Yassen Gregorovich (Damian Lewis).
He is then recruited by his uncle's former employers, Alan Blunt (Bill Nighy) and Mrs. Jones (Sophie Okonedo) of the Special Operations Division of MI6, who explain to Alex that his uncle has been training him as a spy; Alex initially refuses to co-operate but agrees when they threaten to prosecute then deport Jack (now his guardian) for being an illegal immigrant. Alex is then sent to a gruelling SAS training camp where his fellow trainees first look down on him because of his age, but he soon gains respect for his capabilities.
He sets off on his first mission, aided by gadgets from Smithers (Stephen Fry). Billionaire Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke) is donating a free high-powered computer system codenamed Stormbreaker to every school in the United Kingdom. MI6 are suspicious of his seemingly generous plans and send Alex undercover as a competition winner to investigate. There, he meets the man himself, Sayle and his two accomplices, Mr Grin (Andy Serkis) and Nadia Vole (Missi Pyle) and is shown the Stormbreaker computer in action. Later, while Alex is having dinner with Sayle, the suspicious Vole steals Alex's phone and tracks the SIM card to his house in Chelsea, London. She goes there and finds Alex's true identity. While she is there, she is disturbed by and consequently fights Jack. Despite being out-classed Jack wins with the help of a blowfish, leaving Nadia to flee the scene. Still troubled by the events, Alex sneaks out of his bedroom window to observe a midnight delivery of mysterious containers to Sayle's lair.
The next day, Alex finds himself in trouble when his cover is blown. After trying to escape from the facility he is captured and during a villianesque monologue Sayle explains his true reasons behind Stormbreaker - each system contains a deadly virus which when activated will kill all of Britain's schoolchildren. Sayle leaves Alex tied up and departs for the London Science Museum. Nadia drops Alex into a water-tank to be killed by a giant Portuguese Man o' War. He escapes by using the metal-disintegrating spot cream supplied by Smithers, rupturing the tank and killing Nadia when the jellyfish hits her. Alex then hitches a ride on a helicopter piloted by Mr. Grin, using a sodium pentothal arrow to gain Mr. Grin's obedience. Alex parachutes out of the helicopter and lands just as the Prime Minister (Robbie Coltrane) is about to press the button which will activate the computers. Alex uses a rifle to shoot the podium, which destroys the button, and ruins Sayle's plan.
Sayle is furious and leaves, but Alex then realises that Sayle has a back-up plan, and with the help of school friend Sabina Pleasure (Sarah Bolger) he pursues Sayle through the streets of London. Fifty floors up on one of Sayle's skyscrapers, Alex reaches him and unplugs his backup plan. An angered Sayle chases him out onto the roof and pushes him off but Alex manages to hold on. Sayle is distracted by the arrival of Sabina, but pushes her and leaves her hanging off the building. Alex then manages to swing Sabina onto a balcony. Just as Sayle is about to shoot Alex, Sayle is killed when Yassen arrives in a helicopter and shoots him before rescuing Alex. Yassen tells Alex to forget about him, but Alex refuses, saying that the killing of Ian means they are enemies.
Alex goes back to school. He and Sabina are talking about what happened and he says that it will never happen again. The film ends, showing someone observing Alex from a distance. He notices it and realises that it wasn't the end.
- Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider
- Alicia Silverstone as Jack Starbright
- Mickey Rourke as Darrius Sayle
- Sophie Okonedo as Mrs. Jones
- Bill Nighy as Alan Blunt
- Damian Lewis as Yassen Gregorovich
- Sarah Bolger as Sabina Pleasure
- Stephen Fry as Smithers
- Andy Serkis as Mr. Grin
- Missi Pyle as Nadia Vole
- Ashley Walters as Wolf
- Ewan McGregor as Ian Rider
- Jimmy Carr as John Crawley
- Robbie Coltrane as the Prime Minister
Author Anthony Horowitz, already an established and prolific screenwriter in British television, wrote the screenplay and worked very closely throughout the film's production with director Geoffrey Sax and producers Marc and Peter Samuelson. The Weinstein Company acquired the North American rights to the film, which was filmed in Summer 2005 with six weeks on the Isle of Man and a further six weeks in London. Some of the scenes of the school were filmed in Grey Coat and Ballakermeen High school, Douglas, Isle of Man. The film had a budget of £25 million ($40 million).
In 2005, actor Alex Pettyfer was cast as Alex Rider. He was picked out of five hundred hopefuls who auditioned for the role. Pettyfer was originally offered a role in the then-upcoming film Eragon but turned it down, noting that he preferred Stormbreaker because it would be filmed nearer home while Eragon would film in the Czech Republic.
In June 2006, the producers of the movie signed a deal with Nintendo that made the Nintendo DS a prominent feature in the film, much like the Power Glove in The Wizard. This is an upgrade from the Game Boy Color that Alex used in the novel version. In addition to the Nintendo marketing in the film, Alex's mobile phone is a Nokia 7710 and he uses a sodium pentothal (otherwise known as truth serum) pen to get to London, not a gun.
In August, 2006, the film was renamed to Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker for the United States release. A new poster (shown right) and trailer were released along with the announcement. It was also revealed that the US premiere would take place on the Intrepid aircraft carrier at the Hudson River, New York.
The name of the principal villain also changed from Herod Sayle to Darrius Sayle, with his nationality switched from Lebanese (Egyptian in the US version of the novel) to American. This was because Mickey Rourke was already in talks to take on the role, so Horowitz adapted the character to suit him. Throughout the film Mickey Rourke's dog can be seen. It can also be seen on the US film poster.
Stormbreaker was supposed to kick-start an Alex Rider movie franchise, adapting all the books in the series to the big screen, in much the same vein as the Harry Potter film series. Anthony Horowitz and producer Marc Samuelson hoped to make Alex Rider the next multi-million dollar movie series. The film had a very high-profile marketing campaign, with camera crews from the BBC and ITV among others visiting the set and the production team, Stormbreaker was one of the most hyped films released that year. A large amount of merchandise was produced to coincide with the premiere, including tie-in books featuring interviews with the cast and detailing the production and making of the film.
Reception and box office
Critical reaction to Stormbreaker was mostly mixed or average. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 33% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 66 reviews, with the consensus that the film was "strictly children's fare, as it lacks originality, excitement, and believability".
The Hollywood Reporter branded the film as a "a lame and disappointing affair". Although likening it to both the Harry Potter and James Bond series, reviewer Ray Bennett said the film "lacks any kind of suspense" due to the script. He ended saying that Stormbreaker was unlikely to have a "license to kill at the box-office".
Boston.com's reporter Wesley Morris also gave Stormbreaker two stars out of five, and said that "Geoffrey Sax's filmmaking holds few surprises... but it's swift and competent, despite too many shots of cars on roads that bloat the running time."
In the UK the film grossed £6,783,568 ($9,700,319) and in the US it grossed a total of $652,526, failing to remake the £25 million ($40 million) spent in production.
Hopes and expectations for a box office-busting movie franchise were so high that Horowitz was commissioned to start writing the screenplay for the adaption of the second novel Point Blanc even before Stormbreaker was released. Alex Pettyfer was signed to play Alex Rider in all the sequels and Horowitz gave several interviews where he confidently stated that Alex Rider would become the next iconic movie character. However the film's poor box office performance meant that plans for a movie franchise were dropped. The film was a rather embarrassing failure for Anthony Horowitz, who later admitted the movie was a "mistake". In an interview in 2009, Horowitz disclosed that there are no plans for any more Alex Rider films as the books "do not translate well to the big screen".
- ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=stormbreaker.htm
- ^ "Stormbreaker filming finishes". BBC News Online. 2005-08-14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/isle_of_man/4150778.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ Maddocks, Fiona (2006-07-20). "Calm amid the storm". The Scotsman. http://living.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1051932006. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ Lyall, Sarah (2006-07-18). "He Was a Teenage Spy, Surrounded by Treacherous Adults". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/movies/18stor.html?_r=1&ex=1153368000&en=00794b0b1eb222d2&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ "The Nintendo DS - Heading to a theater near you!". The Nintendo DS - Heading to a theater near you!. Go Nintendo. 2006-06-27. http://gonintendo.com/?p=3345. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ Carr, Kevin. "An Interview with Anthony Horowitz". 7(M) Pictures. http://www.7mpictures.com/inside/anthonyhorowitz_feature.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker". Rotten Tomatoes. http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/stormbreaker/. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
- ^ Smith, Neil (2006-07-21). "Stormbreaker (2006)". BBC Films. http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2006/07/20/stormbreaker_2006_review.shtml. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ Bennett, Ray (2006-07-26). "Stormbreaker". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. http://web.archive.org/web/20070930200932/http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/reviews/review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002879297. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- ^ Tyler, Josh (2006-09-27). "Stormbreaker". Cinema Blend. http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Alex-Rider-Operation-Stormbreaker-1823.html. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- ^ Morris, Wesley (2006-10-13). "'Stormbreaker' is kid lit without the pages". Boston.com. http://www.boston.com/movies/display?display=movie&id=8722. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- Archived June 17, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker at AllRovi
- Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker at Box Office Mojo
- Stormbreaker at the Internet Movie Database
- Stormbreaker at Metacritic
- Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker at Rotten Tomatoes
Alex Rider series Novels Short storiesSecret Weapon · Christmas at Gunpoint · Incident in Nice Graphic novelsStormbreaker: The Graphic Novel · Point Blanc: The Graphic Novel · Skeleton Key: The Graphic Novel Other Films directed by Geoffrey Sax 1990sDoctor Who (1996) 2000s 2010sFrankie and Alice (2010) · Christopher and His Kind (2010)
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