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Johnny English Reborn - Review

Johnny English Reborn

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

IT’S been eight years since Johnny English first bumbled his way into cinemas but judging by the tepid nature of this rebirth it would better have been aborted.

Rowan Atkinson claims to have worked tirelessly to perfect the sequel so that it reflects the advances in the spy genre (from Bond to Bourne) but save for a couple of semi-funny gags and references to such things, Johnny English Reborn continues to rely on formulaic gags and unfunny, strained-to-the-point of death scenarios.

It means that the moments that are funny make you feel guilty or at the very least pondering why there aren’t more of them.

For his latest mission, English (Atkinson) is called back from self-imposed exile in Asia to try and prevent an attempt against the Chinese premier’s life – an assignment that sends him off on more globe-trotting mis-adventures and which exposes corruption, or moles, within the KGB, CIA and MI7.

En route, there are plenty of nods to past 007 adventures (from the golf scene in Goldfinger to the use of an aged female assassin a la From Russia With Love’s Rosa Klebb) as well as a cleverish dismantling of the elaborate parkour-inspired chase sequences that have informed the likes of Casino Royale and Bourne.

But even then, director Oliver Parker tends to labour the point and over-emphasise each gag to the point of bringing out the yawns.

Elsewhere, he’s content to rely on the same type of silly humour that Atkinson has honed his skills on for decades – albeit by employing the childish buffoonery of Mr Bean as opposed to the dastardly deviousness of Blackadder.

Hence, audiences get scenes involving Johnny English sitting on a cat, attacking innocent elderly women by accident (twice for good effect!), or being outwitted by his own smugness time and time again.

Admittedly, there are some gags in all this that do hit the mark, such as an extended sequence involving a mis-behaving chair in the middle of an important meeting. But even they have been done before.

The support cast, too, makes the whole thing more watchable than it really deserves to be, with Rosamund Pike adding charm and good looks (and another Bond reference) to the obligatory love interest, Dominic West having fun as an MI7 rival and Daniel Kaluuya laying down a marker for the future.

But overall Johnny English Reborn is a waste of a potentially interesting (and even hilarious) character that plays only to the most childish minds.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 101mins
UK Release Date: October 7, 2011