Martin Carr reviews the second season of Alex Rider…
When Amazon first decided to adapt Alex Rider, a character conjured up by writer Anthony Horowitz, audiences were sceptical to say the least. The movie version may have featured solid performances from Alex Pettyfer, Ewan McGregor and Damian Lewis but never spawned a sequel. However, when the revamped television version hit screens in 2020 with Otto Farrant, it proved this teenage spy had potential.
A contemporary soundtrack, catchy opening titles and plot lines which required the involvement of underage operatives, carried audiences along with minimal fuss. Stately homes, undercover identities and a resourceful central protagonist, made another season inevitable. With Vicky McClure and Stephen Dillane on solid form as secret service wranglers to a teenage protégé, Alex Rider season one embraced cliché whilst adding something fresh. An isolated school for assassins, tech giant megalomaniacs and a piece of perfect casting in Otto Farrant, made season one hugely popular. However, season two maybe slower off the blocks but offers rewards for those willing to do the distance.
That being said, it still takes two episodes before events hit anything close to second gear. Brenock O’Connor’s best friend Tom might have more to do, but this remains Otto Farrant’s calling card. Either standing toe to toe with Stephen Dillane’s Alan Blunt, or facing off against some shady gaming mogul, this young actor more than holds his own. Toby Stephens is also a welcome addition, giving gaming guru Damian Cray more conflict and less caricature.
Written again by Guy Burt, this sophomore run embraces cliché by isolating our eponymous hero from any means of visible support. Alex is forced to lean on his friends and confidante Jack Starbright, played with an understated pre-possession by Ronke Adekoluejo. Some of the plot dots feel tenuously connected, but in the main Alex Rider mark two expands this world with notable success. By drawing in threads from season one, audiences also get the feeling of interconnection, which grounds action sequences by demonstrating tangible consequences.
Although it is possible to spot the bad guy from a mile off, Alex Rider never lets that simplicity undermine emotional investment. As the stakes increase and allies begin to circle their wagons, it becomes apparent that this could run for another season at least. With endless amounts of source material to pilfer courtesy of Anthony Horowitz, there is no reason why Alex Rider doesn’t deserve another green light.
By that point Otto Farrant and Brenock O’Connor will be in their early twenties, unable to convince anyone of their adolescence. However, until that day comes this Amazon adaptation comes highly recommended. Just kick back, tune in, and realise that Alex Rider is here to stay.
Alex Rider Season 2 launches on December 3rd on IMDb TV.