Making its debut last weekend on Cinemax was 2011’s “Johnny English Reborn”, the sequel to 2003’s “Johnny English”.
Johnny English is a bumbling, inept, dense MI7 agent, played by Rowan Atkinson. He’s the antithesis of Bond’s suave, cool, athletic secret agent. English is just as apt to trip over his shoelaces as he is to successfully use a gadget on a bad guy.
Atkinson is a bit of an acquired taste, and he’s 95% of this film, so a good deal of your mileage will depend on your enjoyment of him, but I can imagine that fans of his will be pleased, and there’s plenty here for people who would enjoy a good spy spoof as well.
“Johnny English Reborn” opens with Johnny English in exile, so to speak. He’s studying Kung Fu in a Tibetan monastery after miserably failing a security mission in Mozambique. But when a CIA agent turned informant has knowledge – that he will only give to English – of an international conspiracy to assassinate the Chinese Premier, MI7 is forced to call him back into service. The agent reveals a conspiracy involving rogue agents of MI7, CIA and KGB who have formed a trio of high level assassins known as “Vortex”. Each of the three are in possession of a component of special key that, when assembled, leads to the heart of their secret plot.
English bumbles and stumbles his way through the investigation. His training in Tibet has actually made him a bit more coordinated and capable, but he’s still as dense as ever. There are multiple times when he has one of the sought after keys in his possession, only to have them easily taken from him by Vortex. At one point he and his partner HAVE the actual MI7 turncoat agent captured, and English lets him go because… well, English is a twit.
Your enjoyment of the movie will almost entirely depend on your tolerance for Rowan Atkinson. He has an odd brand of comedy that’s part physical comedy, part irritation comedy, and part facial mugging. I’ve never been the biggest fan (the “Mr. Bean” phenomenon missed me entirely), but he’s not overly annoying here. Also, as a Bond fan, I appreciated the endless array of parodied scenes and Bond “in-jokes”. There are direct homages to “On Her Majesties Secret Service”, “Quantum of Solace”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, and many, many more.
“Johnny English Reborn” is a harmless, disposable comedy. It’s a light, decently enjoyable movie, but nothing all that memorable… I’d imagine that goes even if you ARE a big Atkinson fan.