Since Hollywood never really could stake out its territory in the super-spy game, it's decided that it's time to play a different hand. And so at the end of Agent Cody Banks, you have the mandatory Hail America requiem that tails every Hollywood save-the-world flick, but being recited by a 15-something who can do all that Her Majesty's secret servant can do at 45.
Yes, America doesn't need a James Bond to toast the bad guys - a CIA-boned-up 15-year-old will do. And whether you can abide him depends on which side of the adolescence divide you are on. Anyway, Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) is a ruddy kid who won't scare easy, and so is selected by the CIA at 13 to attend a special camp to create the next generation of the CIA payroll, and to take the sting out of its critics' swipes that some of its agents have a mental age of 13.
Banks is 15 when he is put on his first real assignment - resisting the lure of his hot CIA "mentor" Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon). Okay, actually he has to befriend 15-year-old Natalie Connors (Hilary Duff) so that he can get close to her father, a scientist getting stiffed into developing a fleet of deadly nanobots for the evil organization ERIS. If you don't know what a nanobot is, forget it.
Now Banks isn't exactly a lady-killer, and all the CIA's men and women can't get him to shake off his shrinking shyness and date Natalie. So he decides to do the old-fashioned thing and save her from an accident. Providence shines and she leans in to his attentions, but he sours the assignment when he strong-arms some co-eds from school at a party, attracting too much attention in the process for his heroics. And so he's dumped off off the job.
But Natalie is spirited away by the bad guys, and Banks can't strap himself out of it all, so he launches a personal rescue mission. The CIA of course knows the score, and sends Ronica in to ride shotgun for him. Then on, it's all James Bond 101, with runaway racecars, face-offs with megalomaniacs and gadget-powered explosive denouements. Needless to say, Banks comes through, with Ronica bringing up the rear.
The film spoons a lot of standard-issue spy-flick action into your plate, and the visuals and settings show effort. However, it is certainly a movie for kids, Angie Harmon's figure or not. The wit aims low, and the dialogues are lame. Even kids would probably enjoy the Spy Kids series more.
There's a sequel been made to tail this, too. We mention it here because ...well, it would be stupid to mention it in the review of another film, right? Your reasoning to watch this would have to be similar, too.