Johnny English Reborn
dir Oliver Parker
scr Hamish McColl
prd Tim Bevan, Chris Clark, Eric Fellner
with Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Gillian Anderson, Daniel Kaluuya, Pik-Sen Lim, Tim McInnerny, Burn Gorman, Richard Schiff, Stephen Campbell Moore, Mark Ivanir, Ben Miller
release UK 7.Oct.11, US 28.Oct.11
11/UK Universal 1h41
Johnny English Reborn
Mastermind: Atkinson and Pike

west anderson mcinnerny
Johnny English (2003) Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Johnny English Reborn After the painfully unfunny 2003 original, a franchise was highly unlikely. And yet the spoof spy is back, and this film actually has several hilarious set pieces. It's not hugely consistent or clever, but this one's at least amusing.

After a disastrous mission in Mozambique, disgraced spy Johnny English (Atkinson) joined a Himalayan monastery. But MI7 boss Pegasus (Anderson) calls him back into service, and soon he stumbles into a nefarious plan to assassinate China's prime minister. But he's also of course causing havoc. Now the lead suspect, only the agency's sexy shrink Kate (Pike) and his sidekick Tucker (Kaluuya) still have faith in him. And as the murderous plot unfurls at a mountain-top Swiss hideaway, English makes a daring attempt to save the world and clear his name.

Much more of a Bond spoof than the previous movie, scenes are packed with gadgetry, double-agents, hot women and dashing spies, all played dead-straight, even as things get increasingly ridiculous. The narrative is a halfhearted pastiche that leaves the film completely bereft of tension, so the enjoyment comes in watching the other characters react to - or more likely try to ignore - English's slapstick goofiness.

While the filmmakers often resort to cheap laughs, they also create some sublimely funny set pieces. A scene around a boardroom table with a malfunctioning chair is so simple that it's genius, as is a fight between English's left and right sides. More ambitious is a hilarious sendup of rooftop free-running chases. Even so, the action gags are only mildly amusing, mainly because there's no suspense, and the romantic moments are a little embarrassing. Although a post-credits clip adds a touch of deranged charm.

It helps that the film is shot in a slick blockbuster style that mimics Bond/Bourne-style thrillers in inventively nutty ways. Nods to other movies (from a scene in a casino to Lim's tenacious assassin-cleaner) keep us chuckling, mainly because the approach is so unapologetically silly. In the end, the weak plot and general zaniness wear us out before the climactic action scene and comical epilogue. But at least this time around we leave the cinema with a smile on our faces.

cert pg themes, violence, vulgarity 28.Sep.11

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Johnny English Reborn Anna Davies, Milton Keynes: 3/5"Like so many comedies, this tends to stumble from one scene to another, unashamedly setting up the next gag, and it suceeds on most occasions to get the required response. It undoubtedly makes for a very good family film. Without Rowan Atkinson though this film would be an utter disaster - Putting on trousers backwards is as old as they come but the casual way he zips up the flies is testament that Rowan Atkinson delivers a punchline far better than many comedy actors ever could but let's be completely honest! These days most would avoid that scene altogether! In the cold light of day you have to wonder whether this film was created merely as a vehicle for Atkinson's genius because the plot is so disappointing and full of such gaping chasms it's just sloppy! Overall the jokes and the silliness easily outweigh the flaws to make it work."(11.Oct.11)

© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall