Johnny English Reborn. I was not a fan of the original Johnny English and I don’t usually like British comedies but I found myself really enjoying this sequel, maybe because my expectations were so low.
Here’s the gist: Rowan Atkinson stars as the complete baffoon Johnny English, who somehow got a job as a secret agent. In this sequel, we catch up with Johnny five years after a terrible accident in Mozambique caused English to be kicked out of the secret service. Well, trouble arises and it turns out Johnny English is the only man who can help.
I found the film funny because it knows exactly what it is. It doesn’t parody action or spy films, which is all too easy, but gives a fresh spin. For example, English is chasing a criminal and the criminal is doing these crazy parkour moves. Instead of the usual antics of our hero attempting to keep up, English resorts to using elevators and bridges, always somehow a step ahead. It’s funny, trust me.
I also enjoy how much fun Atkinson has playing Johnny English. English is completely unaware but not to the point of it being sad (which happens in some films, such as Dinner for Schmucks). He also manages to be pretty charismatic and I’m not outraged by the obligatory romance that they threw in. It kind of makes sense.
The supporting cast is… there. They all do fine. The biggest surprise for me was seeing X-Files alum Gillian Anderson as the head of the secret service, accent and all. She had jet black hair, which was a unique look. I kind of wonder if she wanted to do this film or if her X-Files money finally ran out.
So what doesn’t work? There are a few times where the joke gets tiresome. They play on the same old gag a few times but they usually push it a little too far. This was rare though and usually they hit all the right notes. There were also a few scenes where English acted completely and ridiculously stupid, beyond the standard we’d expect. I think I groaned once, but then got back to laughing.
What does work? Like I said above, Atkinson is completely at home in this real and the film manages to walk the fine line between mocking and imitating the spy film genre. The supporting cast works and the fight scenes are actually pretty enthralling. The movie is stupid though. But that’s exactly what’d you expect right? It’s classic old-school slapstick humor and dry British wit and it works perfectly. Not a great film, or even the best choice of movies currently in theatres, but it’s a fun ride. If you want a silly adventure story that might surprise you, give Johnny English Reborn a shot.