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Johnny English Reborn

Johnny English Reborn: A Comedy That’s More Absurd Than Funny

  • Daniel KaluuyaDominic West...
  • Action & AdventureComedy...
  • Oliver Parker
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Johnny English Reborn: A Comedy That’s More Absurd Than Funny

Johnny (Atkinson), a disgraced MI-7 agent is called back into the fray
again to thwart a plot to assassinate the Chinese prime minister. He discovers
the existence of a trio of double agent assassins who go by the name of Vortex;
one from the CIA, one from KGB and the third from MI-7. He has to find the mole
in MI-7 before he ends up murdering the prime minister. While on his mission,
his assignment becomes a personal revenge mission as he discovers that Vortex
was behind his fall from grace at MI-7.

Atkinson is polarizing. Like Spinach. Or Brussel Sprouts. You either
like him and his tics or you don’t, and your enjoyment of this film will
largely rest on your tolerance for his seizure-like facial expressions. His Johnny
English isn’t just a bundle of tics though which actually might have been
preferable. When his emotional side rears its head, for instance when with his
love interest, it’s like he’s a completely different person.  

In fact, the romance between English and Kate (Pike), an MI-7
behavioural psychologist, is ludicrous. Right up until her declaration of love
to English, she treats him the way a doctor would treat a mildly interesting
medical condition.

Half-assed spoofs like this just don’t work and come off as rather lazy
and lame. In addition, the tone is just off. At times, it’s a full blown comedy
and then some emotional scenes are shoehorned in and the mood completely
changes. Then it’s back to where we stopped before the romance was forced in. Jokes
are often milked for all they’re worth and then some till they’re more tedious
than funny. For example, a chase and fight with a Chinese man, far younger and
healthier than English, is amusing for the first couple of minutes where English
manages to keep up with his quarry despite putting in far less effort, but then
it just drags on and on. The same goes for a chase between English in a high
tech wheelchair and a fleet of police cars. On the other hand though, English
flying a helicopter on a motorway manages to stay funny for its entirety.   

On the plus side, Kaluuya is quite entertaining as English’s assistant
who is both reverent yet fully aware of his mentor’s shortcomings. West also
has a good turn as Ambrose, MI-7’s best agent. His conversations with English
are especially funny in how he talks down to him and manages to warp his easily
shaped mind to suit his own plans. All in all however, Johnny English Reborn is more miss than hit.  

Like This? Try

Get Smart, The Pink Panther, Austin Powers.

360 Tip

Pierce 'James Bond' Brosnan was originally in talks over a role in the film.

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