Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Daniel Kaluuya, Gillian Anderson
Director: Oliver Parker
Running Time: 101 mins
Johnny English Reborn is a British film and the sequel to Johnny English. After having spent years away from MI7, Agent English returns to action when it emerges that a group of criminals are plotting to assassinate the Chinese Premier.
I liked the first Johnny English. Simple and silly it may have been, but it did the job of being a solid Bond parody. Fortunately, its sequel does pretty much the same, but thanks to the added bonus of a slightly higher budget and a different sort of performance from Rowan Atkinson compared to last time out, it’s often even more entertaining than the original, something that I really didn’t expect to see.
We’ll start with the thing that works best about this film: Rowan Atkinson himself. He’s a legendary comedic actor with range from Mr. Bean to Blackadder and everything in between. In the first film, he did a great job at being a slick but still clumsy and funny super spy, providing a good proportion of the laughs all on his own.
In the sequel, however, his performance is a little bit closer to that of Mr. Bean, but it’s all for the better. There’s still some fun, suave Bond parody moments, but the best laughs come from Johnny English’s numerous mishaps and clumsy mistakes, whilst his fantastically funny relationship with his sidekick, played brilliantly by Daniel Kaluuya, adds even more fun into the mix.
Atkinson is a great lead throughout, and although there are a couple of moments where gags may drag on just a tad too long, it’s his performance that really helps to keep the film a lot more entertaining than you’d expect. What’s more is that he’s backed up by a selection of great supporting performances.
The aforementioned Daniel Kaluuya is hugely funny and likable in the rookie role alongside Johnny English, Gillian Anderson is fairly entertaining as the stuck-up boss of MI7, as well as a smattering of others in supporting roles, including Rosamund Pike, Dominic West and more, all bringing more fun and charisma to the table.
Now, when it comes to these spy parodies, you’re not looking for a particularly riveting story, but one that has at least a little bit of depth and intrigue can never hurt. And that’s another thing that surprised me about Johnny English Reborn.
Its overall plot may follow the most generic spy story possible, but it does prove an engaging watch, with a simple yet effective story that pits Johnny English against his greatest enemies yet, as well as a fun little backstory about his service in ‘Mozambique’ that not only makes for a good few laughs, but does actually add well to the story.
Of course, the film isn’t one hundred percent perfect, and some of the clichés that play out, particularly that of the relationship that develops between Atkinson and Pike’s characters, don’t actually feel like parodying, but more simply lazy writing on the part of the screenplay here, while some of the comedy isn’t enormously funny.
However, I had some good fun with Johnny English Reborn on the whole. It’s a silly and simple spy parody with a great central performance and a fairly decent story, and although it’s not perfectly executed, it makes for a fun watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.