More madcap adventures
Johnny English Reborn (2011)
Duration: 101 minutes
Directed by: Oliver Parker
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Dominic West, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Kaluuva, Richard Fisch, Togo Igawa, Tim McInnerny
Rowan Atkinson, most famous for his portrayal of Mr Bean and Black Adder, returns as the bumbling superspy Johnny English. The sequel to the 2003 film will go down well with Mr Atkinson’s legions of devotees and with audiences looking for an undemanding easygoing comedy. Pity that not enough effort is placed in the direction and overall look of the film as it never manages to bring enough finesse to avoid the pitfall of looking like a series of vignettes tied loosely together.
Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) has disappeared from the public eye and gone into hiding and training in a secluded Tibetan monastery. However, when MI7 discovers that there is a plot to kill the Chinese premier, his unusual and off-the-book methods are in demand again. Soon Johnny English is neck deep in gadgets, in trouble with the KGB, CIA and MI7. Help is provided by Kate Summer (Rosamund Pike), a behaviour study psychologist and agent in training Tucker (Daniel Kaluuva).
Johnny English as a character may seem to be just another James Bond parody with the spy in tuxedo, multitude of gadgets and attempts at suaveness and such.
However, Mr Atkinson turns it into something more of a parody. He never seems to be making an effort but he is the film’s saving grace – just take a look at how his face contorts so malleably. His penchant for putting things right by simply doing everything wrong is quite funny and lovable.
Gillian Anderson here takes the Judi Dench role from the 007 films. Her role as the MI7 chief is played straight with a hint of parody. She provides contrast and balance to Mr Atkinson’s madcap screen presence. Dominic West as English’s long-term spy buddy Simon is completely lost and too pompous for his own good. Rosamund Pike is believable as being innocent and credulous. The revelation is Daniel Kaluuva who brings real acting talent to the film.
Another interesting aspect in the film is the amount of product placement that litters the film from Johnny English’s voice-activated Rolls Royce to Toshiba’s owning of MI7. The film has several nice gags – the speed camera sequence, the tangles with the Queen and the crazy helicopter ride.
The overall feel is sometimes less James Bond and more Naked Gun style. The film aims for easy laughs, which it gets. However, this is a pity as this film could have gone for chest-bursting guffaws which it is too lazy to try to elicit.
Overall, the film is enjoyable on a popcorn entertainment level but ultimately it’s been there, done that fare.