With Spies Like This...
Everyone deserves a second chance, even a disgraced British agent like Johnny English. After being responsible for a major goof-up, English spends time in Asia becoming “toughened up” and more disciplined in Johnny English Reborn. When he gets called back to service, no one is more surprised than English himself. With Rowan Atkinson in the title role here, it’s no wonder this spy spoof ends up being so funny. Although some humor falls flat, Atkinson evokes plenty of laughs as English tries to apply newfound wisdom while accomplishing his perilous new assignment.
Most of the fun in Johnny English Reborn comes from watching Atkinson as an ultra-serious agent of Her Majesty’s Secret Service who misses as many clues as he uncovers during this dangerous opportunity for redemption. Highlights include his unusual chase of a much younger bad guy and the hysterical running gag about a killer cleaner (Pik Sen Lim). Happily, the thriller aspects of this sequel also help make it worth seeing. Directed with a brisk pace by Oliver Parker (The Importance of Being Earnest) from an amusing screenplay by William Davies (Johnny English) and Hamish McColl (Mr. Bean’s Holiday), the movie boasts a James Bond-like plot, gadgets galore and exciting stunts.
So what is Johnny English’s mission this time? He must stop a trio of international villains (the Vortex) out to cause world chaos. Of immediate concern is their agenda to assassinate the Chinese premiere. In order to stop this from happening, English needs to identify the culprits and unravel a conspiracy that might involve -- yikes! -- MI-7, his own agency. But not to worry, for Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), an eager, intelligent young agent has been assigned to help him. And the two make quite an entertaining pair!
Providing excellent support for Atkinson are Gillian Anderson (The X-Files: I Want To Believe) as English’s reluctant boss, Rosamund Pike (Surrogates) as a compassionate behavioral scientist, and Dominic West (Hannibal Rising) as a suspicious fellow MI-7 agent.
I realize Rowan Atkinson isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But to me, he’s one of the funniest actors working today. His Johnny English may not be the best character he portrays -- that’s Mr. Bean in my book. Still, I think it’s a treat to see him on the big screen again in whatever role he chooses. And speaking of treats, be sure to sit through the end credits for something very special from Atkinson. If you’re a fan, you won’t be sorry.
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG” for mild action, rude humor, some language and brief sensuality.)
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