It was last October during the MCM Comic Con London that we were able to see the first glimpse of the new Alex Rider series, written by Guy Burt and based on the books by Anthony Horowitz.
Well, from now on we can see more than just a teaser as Amazon picked up the entire series. While it might seem that the series is just for teenagers, it’s much more than that. It’s grittier, more grown-up, and darker than you would initially think.
Just as any good spy series (or film, therefore), “Alex Rider” stars with a very mysterious death. Michael Roscoe (Steven Brand), who leaves behind his massive Roscorp Media company in New York and a rich and cocky son, fell down into a lift shaft. Wondering how this could have happened? Well, if we tell you that it would spoil the fun, right?
What we can tell you is who Alex Rider (Otto Farrant) is. He’s that typical teenage schoolboy, who has a best friend (Tom, played by Brenock O’Connor), a potential girlfriend Ayisha (Shalisha James-Davis), and who’s always up for a party.
He’s also not afraid of getting into trouble. However, his normal life is about to be torn down when his uncle (Andrew Buchan), which whom he lives, has been involved in a car accident.
An accident that will have a bigger impact on Rider’s life than he expected. Not only on an emotional level but also because he finds out that his uncle wasn’t what he claims he was.
From then on, Rider’s life becomes one full of intrigues, secrets, stolen identities, secrets agents, dark personalities, and a mysterious school called ‘Point-Blanc’. There’s also room for more emotional aspects such as love, friendship, and broken relationships.
There are even some elements of ‘Stormbreaker’, another Alex Rider book, and inspiration for a possible next season. One thing is for sure: Nothing is what it seems in this series.
Well, apart from the fact that “Alex Rider” is an enjoyable series. Ok, yes, it starts very slow (slower than in the original books) but it becomes a series that grows on you once the pace is increased.
The reason for the slow start is probably because the first few episodes focus on getting to know the different characters, feelings, and dialogues. We would understand if you would want to stop watching the series after episode two or three but keep on watching as it becomes much better afterwards.
If we would have to pick our favourite scene, it would be the cliffhanger of episode seven. Coming close to that are the fighting scene in the first episode, the dish-washing party scene in episode four, and the homecoming scene at the last episode.
Because everyone knows the books and because of the not well-received “Stormbreaker”, the 2016 movie with Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider, there must have been a lot of pressure on Otto Farrant’s shoulders but luckily he pulls it off wonderfully.
Farrant (“A Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Great Ghost Rescue”) certainly knows how to put on a grown-up performance while also still integrating that fun, rebellious, and charming typical teenage elements.
We saw O’Connor in “Game of Thrones” as Olly but his performance as Tom is much more amusing, fun, and entertaining. During the Alex Rider panel at MCM Comic Con London, it became clear that there’s a real friendship between Farrant and O’Connor, and their friendship makes sure that there’s wonderful on-screen chemistry between them.
Ronke Adekoluejo (“Cyprus Avenue”, “Been So Long”) her performance as Jack Starbright is also a delightful, captivating and uplifting one. There’s a nice addition to the Alex Rider story which comes in the form of Kyra and in the stunning performance of Marli Siu (“Our Ladies”, “Run”).
There’s just one thing that could have been improved when it comes to acting. We would have loved to see much more of Vicky McCluren (“Convenience”, “Svengali”) as Mrs. Jones and Stephen Dillane (“Outlaw King”, “Darkest Hour”) as Alan Blunt. It feels that they were under-used in the series. We know that they’re both capable of great acting and the series would have benefitted if they got the chance to shine more.
What makes this series also contemporary is the soundtrack that’s being used. The music from artists such as Cage the Elephant, Jake Bugg, and The Vaccines is passing by through the episodes and the opening credits are being accompanied by “The World Is Mine” from Samm Henshaw.
There are some differences between the books and the series such as the introduction of a new character, a slower pace, and Alex who becomes a little bit older. During the penultimate scene of the series, Tom is wearing a shirt with the motto “The book is better”. Whether that’s the case or not is something you should decide but “Alex Rider” is certainly a polished, fun, enjoyable, and well-made series.
“Alex Rider” is now available via Amazon Prime Video.