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Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London - Special Edition  (2004)


Starring: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt

Director: Kevin Allen

Rating: PG

Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: July 13, 2004
Review posted: June 23, 2004

Spoilers: Minor


Reviewed by Dylan Grant




Foreign affairs get kid-tested when Agent Cody Banks heads to England on the tail of an evil scientist who’s stolen a mind-control device for his plot to rule the world!  Posing as a student at an elite boarding school, the CIA’s most junior spy (Muniz) teams up with London’s hottest spy (Anderson) to stop a madman bent on turning world leaders into zombies!




Agent Cody Banks 2 succeeds in doing what every sequels should strive to do: it stands alone, as its own film, so that having seen the first film is not a requirement for enjoying the sequel.  There is nothing “left over” from the original to stand in the way of the character’s evolution, and we can start fresh with a new adventure.


The action starts off fast, as we find Agent Banks at camp.  To the outside world, Cody is having fun at Kamp Woody, but it is actually a training camp for kid secret agents.  When head counselor Diaz (Kevin Allen) stages an elaborate disappearing act, Agent Banks finds that he must go off to London to track him down.  The way the city is used as another character in the film is one of the best aspects of the movie.  From the London Eye to Piccadilly Circus to the double-decker busses and the wild moped chase through the streets of the city, the city is presented here in a beautiful light.  London gets the kind of treatment in this film that inspires tourism.


Upon his arrival in London, Cody meets up with his new handler, Derek (Anderson), the consummately urban agent who is more of a kid than Cody.  Derek is one example of many of how much this film relies on stereotypes.  Derek is the typical urban black man we have seen a million times, who dresses the part, and whose favorite “spy gadget” is the booming stereo system.  When he is masquerading as a chef at Cody’s prep school, one of the kids tells him how good the dish he has prepared is, he tells them that in America, “we say it is, ‘straight out of Compton,’” and we all get a laugh out of the stuffy British kids who say “straight out of Compton” to show how much they like the meal.  The kids this movie is aimed at might not catch on, but it is one of the more glaring aspects of the movie.


Stereotypes aside, the relationship between Cody and Derek is well portrayed.  Derek is a kid at heart, and Agent Banks is a kid so immersed in the world, in being a secret agent, that he has forgotten how to be a kid.  In the way Cody is so blinded by his profession, I was reminded of Grosse Pointe Blank, though this film is nowhere near as bleak in its view of the world.  Cody and Derek balance each other well, and their relationship is the warm core of the film.


The performances are well done throughout the film.  Hannah Spearlitt is fantastic as Cody’s English counterpart, and Kevin Allen brings the sinister Diaz to frightening life, the evil megalomaniac whose goal is to replace the London skyline with a giant statue of himself.  The actors all seem to be having a blast and are aiming to please.  They are the best thing about the movie.


Throughout the film, I kept wondering who this film was aimed at.  It seems a bit too adult for most younger viewers, too childish for most adult viewers, and there is little that would seem to be of interest for anyone in between.  This is perhaps the biggest problem plaguing most films aimed at a younger audience, and it is certainly the biggest problem with this film.  Agent Cody Banks 2 is not a bad film; the filmmakers certainly want the viewer to be entertained.  Just who the viewer would be seems to be the one question they never quite figured out.




The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, and the transfer is sharp.  The black levels are well done and there is no grain to the image.  The visual quality also comes through in the Visual Commentary and in the interactive quiz, where the image pauses without degradation.  Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.  This disc also features a fullscreen version of the film.




Agent Cody Banks 2 is presented in 5.1 Surround, with stereo surround tracks in Spanish and French.  The audio presentation is crisp, with the sound effects coming though sharply.  The whole presentation is perfectly balanced.




The bonus material is probably the best thing about this DVD, and they give a comprehensive picture of how the film came to be.  There are far better films that do not get half the bonus treatment that this film gets.


“Agent Mode” Interactive Quiz: an interesting feature to test your knowledge of all things Cody.  As you watch the film, it pauses in points and asks questions about the story, the characters and other aspects of the film.


“Spy On the Set” Visual Cast Commentary: a clever, if not annoying feature, and similar to the interactive quiz.  In lieu of audio commentary, when this feature is selected, the film pauses in points, and Muniz, Anderson and Spearritt – alone or in unison – will walk into frame and talk about the scene.  This does not happen for every scene, and the trivial tidbits they give are rarely worth stopping the show for.


“Back In Action” Featurette: a promotional-style featurette, not unlike something you might find on HBO or Entertainment Tonight, it goes into how the sequel came to be, its relation to the original film, and how the characters have evolved.  They discuss the location, how the city of London became another character in the movie, and how they chose the locations.  We hear from the director, the producer, and the stars of the show.


Deleted Scenes: interesting for the curious, but it is clear that the decision was made early on not to include these scenes.  They are not finished.  The picture is grainy, the sound unrefined, the green screen has not been replaced.  Their exclusion does not cause the film to lose anything, but they are fun to watch.


Photo Gallery: promotional and behind-the-scenes photos from the production.


Original Theatrical Trailer: as trailers go, this one is pretty good.  If I had kids and I saw this, I would think about taking them to see the movie.


There is quite a bit of bonus material here, enough to answer most questions that you might have about Agent Cody Banks 2.  The sheer quantity makes up for any lapses in quality.




Agent Cody Banks 2 might be entertaining the first time, but it does not seem to hold up a much deeper examination than that. The DVD itself was given the star treatment, but the film is mired in the cliché and never seems to find itself.




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