Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

After botching a manhunt on the grounds of his summer camp/CIA training facility, agent Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) is being sent to London to help thwart a madman (Keith Allen) from taking over the world with a mind control device. Posing as an elite clarinet player in a band made up of the world’s finest teenage musicians, Banks peaks the interest of a curious flute player named Emily (Hannah Spearritt), and is aided by fellow agent, Derek (the excruciating Anderson), as he hunts for clues around London.

This time last year, I found “Agent Cody Banks” to be a sly little tween diversion. It played up the “James Bond Jr.” angle nicely and efficiently, as well being a generally lively and enjoyable adventure. Exactly one year later, the quickie sequel “Destination London” arrives in theaters and everything that made “Banks” such an unexpected treat is gone. Everything. Including, most conspicuously, female co-stars Harmon and tween superstar Duff. Their replacementr Laugh terminator Anderson (“Kangaroo Jack,” “My Baby’s Daddy,” “See Spot Run”), who brings his bottomless bag of “Compton“ comedy with him. Who wins in that swapr I’m thinking Anderson’s agent, because the audience certainly doesn’t get any laughs in the transaction.

“Destination London” is a hastily and poorly written adventure that steals spy action set pieces from other films, and has zero idea what passes for comedy. Directed by Englishman Kevin Allen (“The Big Tease”), the picture is heavily reliant on laziness to get itself in and out of scenes. Can’t find a joker Let Anderson improv endlessly until something resembling a punchline happens. Want to please the American audiencer Stereotype the crap out of all the European characters, and throw in an extended fart and urine sequence just to make sure the lowest common denominator is satisfied. “London” is a family film, so it can get away with being a certain level of stupid, but the original “Banks” took great pride in being, ya know, just a little bit of fun. “London” is a drag from start to finish; clearly the hurried end product of MGM wanting to strike while the iron was lukewarm (the original stalled at 47 million at the box office) on this kiddie franchise.

And even in crazy-fantasy-Hollywood-suspend-disbelief-land, why in the heck would the clearly identifiable bad guy hunt down Banks through the busy commuter streets of London with a rocket launcherr Outside of the obvious explanation that things going boom help distract from the absence of screenwriting, wouldn’t a gun and a silencer do the trick a little betterr But that’s what I get for looking deeply into a Frankie Muniz movie.

If they decide to go ahead with another “Cody Banks” adventure, I can only hope the producers take their time before rushing into another nonsensical story and appalling supporting talent. Clearly, churning out a sequel in less than a year’s time doesn’t do the audience any favors.

Rating: D-