Film review: JOHNNY ENGLISH – REBORN from Built for Speed

As CJ pointed out recently, Rowan Atkinson was probably desperate for memories of Austin Powers to fade so he could release his spy movie parody Johnny English.  While the second film in the series, Johnny English: Reborn makes for ok action comedy fare, it’s unlikely to turn the character into an Austin Powers style pop cultural icon.

The Johnny English films see Atkinson as an unsightly and highly destructive combination of Mr Bean and Inspector Clouseau who has unwisely been given a James Bond-like licence to kill.  This film is a more direct parody of Bond than the Austin Powers films and includes send-ups of specific Bond movie sequences such as the Spy Who Loved Me snow chase and the Goldfinger golf game.  The film does, however, appear to have lifted a few ideas from both Austin Powers with the bumbling hero biffing the boss’s Mother and from Zoolander with its bizarre assassination plot.

The beginning of this second Johnny English film finds him in disgrace after a botched operation in Mozambique. Like all good heroes he is recuperating and getting his scrotum repeatedly kicked in a Tibetan monastery.  He’s called back into service, though, when MI 7 uncover a plot to kill the Chinese premier.

Many predictable and juvenile gags ensue, a number of which fall flat but it’s generally good fun and there’s at least one killer sight gag involving a malfunctioning boardroom chair.

The espionage component of the story is surprisingly solid, helped in no small part by a strong supporting cast including Gillian Anderson as the Agency Boss, Rosamund Pike as a Behavioural Psychologist/ love interest and Dominic West aka McNulty from The Wire as English’s oily, sexist buddy.

This is no comic masterpiece but not the dog I had been led to believe and its brevity and its lack of blood, swearing or flesh make it passable, family-friendly entertainment.

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