Johnny English Strikes Again

 

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Another James Bond spoof - and more silly antics from Mr Bean in a tuxedo and, er, a suit of armour.

   
Johnny English Strikes Again

Suits him: Olga Kurylenko and Rowan Atkinson

 

Just what the world needs: another stupid law enforcer. As we haven’t heard from Inspector Clouseau or Austin Powers for a while, Johnny English steps back into the breach after a break of seven years. Now 63, Rowan Atkinson recycles his old ticks and faux charm as the imbecilic spy who comes to the rescue of MI7 after every other agent has been compromised. The plot itself is rather good: it just keeps on getting side-lined by a series of increasingly silly sketches. To be fair, there is one quite amusing episode in which English tries on a pair of VR goggles and wanders into central London assaulting the public, but beyond that there are meagre pickings.

 

When a government database of secret agents is infiltrated by an unknown hacker, only Johnny English – now a geography teacher in deepest Lincolnshire – is available to save the day. Just as a G12 summit is to be hosted by the British in Scotland, the country is at the mercy of a cyber meltdown. Already every flight in Europe has been re-routed to Luton, while every British train has been programmed to head for Bristol. As agencies around the world are grappling with the implications of digital crime, Downing Street has just one idiot and his sidekick (Ben Miller) to rescue the nation. It’s a frightening scenario – but English does have one ace up his sleeve. Being spectacularly “old school,” he is completely off the grid…

 

However, as Johnny English is so obviously brain-damaged, there’s little room for comic traction. So when he says, “Well, we all know that’s not going to happen,” the pay-off is obvious. And without an element of surprise, humour has nowhere to go. Yet all is not lost: Emma Thompson is hilarious as an alcohol-dependant prime minister (“Vodka tonic! No ice, no tonic!”), who elicits a genuine guffaw when she asks English, “what is wrong with you?” For added cachet, there’s a real Bond girl in the mix, Olga Kurylenko, who donates bona fide glamour, while most of the cast manages to retain a straight face. But the law of diminishing returns is very much a factor here and even the notion of a James Bond spoof is archaic. Besides which, the arrogant stupidity of the central character has become inexorably irksome.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson, Matthew Beard, Adam James, Charles Dance, Edward Fox, Michael Gambon.

 

Dir David Kerr, Pro Chris Clark, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Rowan Atkinson and Rafaël Benoliel, Screenplay William Davies, Ph Florian Hoffmeister, Pro Des Simon Bowles, Ed Tony Cranstoun and Mark Everson, Music Howard Goodall, Costumes Annie Hardinge, Second Unit Dir Vic Armstrong.

 

StudioCanal/Working Title Films/Perfect World Pictures-Universal Pictures

88 mins. UK/France/USA. 2018. Rel: 5 October 2018. Cert. PG.