It is a big day everywhere for millennials who once had Anthony Horowitz's bestselling Alex Rider series on their bookshelves, as the first TV show adaptation of the spy novels has finally landed on Amazon Prime Video - and what's more, it is good. The first novel in the series about the teenage spy who is forced to work for the secret service, Stormbreaker, was released way back in 2000, with a film adaptation of the same name released six years later.
WATCH: Amazon Prime Video Alex Rider trailer
Despite having an all-star cast, the film sadly didn't have all-star reviews, and any sequels were soon out of the question due to the film's poor box office performance. Indeed, author Anthony himself spoke about the movie's shortcomings at the time, saying that the books "do not translate well to the big screen". Of course, a lot has changed in the film and television industry in the 14 years since Stormbreaker's release. The golden era of prestige television shows, particularly those released for viewers' binge-watching pleasure on streaming services, make the silver screen landscape the perfect place for an Alex Rider adaptation to really shine.
The show was released on Amazon Prime Video
In receiving the same treatment as the likes of His Dark Materials, 2019's BBC show that was a critically acclaimed success, unlike its 2006 predecessor, the Alex Rider eight-part series gives the story a chance to do what a film could never quite manage; pace itself. Not to mention, since the books are mostly meant for teenagers and therefore tend to feature fantastical villains with unbelievable plans of world domination, the TV show gives viewers long enough in Alex's world to suspend their disbelief and just roll with the weirdness.
Vicky McClure plays Mrs Jones
Indeed, while Alex casually uses his subconscious spy skills to break into school to steal back a confiscated phone or to sneak out to house parties alongside his comical mate Tom, the story is kept grounded to reality for just long enough for the spy element to be deemed acceptable.
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The show focuses on the second novel Point Blanc
While the 2006 film was also quite obviously aimed at a much younger audience, with assassins hanging upside-down from helicopters and Stephen Fry working in a toy shop full of gadgets, the TV show adaptation makes it more of a family viewing. While it is a coming-of-age tale for Alex, the adults of the piece have a police procedural drama of their own going on as they attempt to track down Alex's uncle Ian's killer, and the storyline is just as convincing as Vicky McClure's Line of Duty or Stephen Dillane's The Tunnel.
Stephen Dillane plays Alan Blunt
The show also succeeds by going straight from the book series' sophomore novel, Point Blanc. Rather than retread the film's origin story, which follows Alex as he foils the plans of a mad billionaire intent of killing British school children with virus-infected computers, the TV adaptation mixes things up. Uncle Ian still dies under mysterious circumstances, but Alex has a different mission entirely; the unnerving mystery of what a school meant for difficult children of the world's wealthiest people has been doing to change their students beyond all recognition. With winning performances from Otto Farrant, Vicky McClure and Brenock O'Connor, all we can say is bring on Skeleton Key...
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