Blanc, not Blank!
That’s the name of the mysterious academy that has quite a few skeletons hidden in its cupboards. The fact that this academy, stylishly called Point Blanc, is in the middle of the alps further lends a mystic feel to the entire setting. Well, this is where teenager Alex Rider has been given the responsibility by none other than MI6 (or shall we say, a subdivision of the British spy agency?) to run his own espionage operation. That when the boy is all of 14 and the entire British intelligence is hinging on his support to find out what happens behind the curtains!
Preposterous as it may sound but such is the prowess of Anthony Horowitz’s writing (originally seen and read in the multi-edition novel of the same name) that you allow suspension of disbelief to set in and join this spy show. Even as those with a conscience want the spy agency’s boss (Stephen Dillane as Alan Blunt) to know that this is not just dangerous but even illegal, the boy of the hour (played skillfully by Otto Farrant) finds his own personal reason to fight it out. After all, his uncle has been killed by those in the know-how of Point Blanc!
In this 8 episodes quick fire series that is currently on at Sony LIV and lasts a little over 40 minutes each, Alex Rider is stylish, sassy and spectacular, more so if one takes into consideration the fact that this time around the central protagonist is not a grown up and the target audience is basically teenagers and young adults. However, I for sure was hooked into it right from the first episode despite the fact that there are quite a few adult versions of such spies already quite popular.
Did one say James Bond, Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne or Jack Ryan to name a few?
Well, in this teenage world of spies, add Alex Rider to the list.
Directors Andreas Prochaska and Christopher Smith make sure that even though they follow the template that is not really unique to the genre, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to making a compelling popcorn thriller. This means right from the intriguing plot to the mood created to the background score to the production design to the twists that are incorporated into the proceedings, you are hooked on to the narrative with no complaints whatsoever.
Of course, any good story requires varied shades of characters ranging from white, black and grey interspersed into the drama and this is where Alex Rider scores as well. Brenock O’Connor (as Tom Harris) to Alex Rider is what Jughead to the Archie; he is funny, loyal and very attached, something that makes him endearing. Then there is Haluk Bilginer (as Dr Greif), the director of Point Blanc and the villain of the piece. One look at him and you know that his motives are dangerous, to put it mildly.
That said, I was particularly glad to check out Vicky McClure back as Mrs. Jones, Alex Rider’s handler. Ever since I saw another supremely well crafted series Line of Duty where she plays a cop, I was excited about seeing her again on screen and she doesn’t disappoint.
Even as a series, Alex Rider doesn’t disappoint at all. It hooks you right from the onset, becomes exciting in the middle portions as the plot thickens and then shocks you as the proceedings become murkier. However, it never ever gets dark and that’s a very good strength of Alex Rider. Considering the kind of audience base that it caters to, that’s a neat enough treatment!