Now Showing on Cable: “Johnny English Reborn”

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.

B-

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14 thoughts on “Now Showing on Cable: “Johnny English Reborn”

  1. I’ve been a huge fan since “Blackadder”. Both face and body, he’s built for the type of comedy he does. He’s also a good standup comic, more skits than one liners. Mr. Bean has some truly classic episodes,although the ratio good-to-blah is about three out of ten. Wouldn’t you agree that good comedies are harder to find than ever? I mean real laugh out loud not chuckle-gaffaw. They’re rare indeed. The SNL alums are almost baby boom-booms, so who do we turn to now? Rowan isn’t over the hill yet. Did you see his stint at the Olympics opening? I’m giving Johnny English a B+ and hope for more Atkinson Antics!

    • I didnt see anything at the Olympics from him, no….

      Who has the comedy torch now? Well, I think the “Frat Pack” isn’t done… Stiller, Vaughn, etc… and then the Appatow Mafia is going to have their day, too. Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, etc.

      I dont think we get any less or more great comedies now… I think that the current time period is always going to suffer by comparison because the stinkers are right in your face. YOu can look back at the Classic SNL class and think they were awesome because their misfires are ancient memories. At best, they were probably only turning out one or two great ones a year, too.

  2. I really wish that Rowan Atkinson would take a break from this Bean-ish sort of rubbish and do something more in the vein of Black Adder. That was, in my opinion, a far superior series and proof that he can do reasonably intelligent humor as well.

    The Mr. Bean sort of stuff can be funny the first few times, but is something of a 1-trick pony. I am fully aware that this is not Bean, but it is obviously humor attempts of the same ilk.

  3. I adore Blackadder. I also think The Thin Blue Line is very good. Johnny English is only a more tolerable version of Mr. Bean. Which is probably the only Atkinson role I absolutely hate. Yet Johnny English and Mr. Bean is what the film industry thinks American will relate to most. I would much rather watch his excellent comedic timing with biting and acerbic wit than his sophomoric, scraping off the bottom of the barrel, pseudo-vaudevillian slapstick.

  4. I could let the first one sort of slide, but I just can’t forgive this. I’ve not even seen it! It’s not as if Atkins is desperate for money – by all accounts he’s loaded. So I do wonder what made him feel like he needed to do this film.

    • If you could let the first one slide, what’s your beef with this one Jaina? That he went to the well again?

      Shit… half of Hollywood does that. LOL.

      It wasn’t horrifyingly bad… although, in fairness, I’m not a huge fan of his or anything, so I’m not sure if I should have been put off by it more than I am or anything…

  5. I haven’t seen the original… though if it’s a lot like Mr. Bean, maybe I shouldn’t, as I was never the biggest Bean fan. I did like the first season of The Black Adder quite a lot though.

    • Yeah, I can understand that. I wasnt a big fan of Bean, so I was a little surprised that I liked the first “Johnny English” at all.

      That prepped me for this one, which I thought was a decent enough diversion… it was ok.

      But I hear you, I can see that.

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