2011 Running time: 101 Certificate: pg Not yet rated

Synopsis

Rowan Atkinson is back for his second mission as the secret agent who generally insults British intelligence. After one botched job too many, Johnny is living in self-imposed exile at an Asian monastery. But when MI7 learn of a plot to assassinate a world leader, the bungling spook is given one last shot at redemption. Unsurprisingly, he puts it straight into his foot. Fellow spy larkers Dominic West, Rosamund Pike and Gillian Anderson are on hand to help turn the half-baked Bean into a full-blown Bond.

Director

  • Oliver Parker

Cast

  • Rowan Atkinson

  • Gillian Anderson

  • Rosamund Pike

  • Dominic West

  • Tim McInnerny

Review

Originally created for a series of credit card ads, Rowan Atkinson's bungling spy Johnny English won plenty of fans with his first feature-length misadventure in 2003. And roughly as many enemies.

So while lovers of Britain's answer to Inspector Clouseau will rejoice at his return, others will find it as funny as a dozen kicks in the goolies. Which it sometimes literally is.

We are reunited with Johnny at a Buddhist monastery, where he has spent five years honing body and mind after cocking up a security assignment in Mozambique.

However, MI7 boss Pegasus (Anderson) is willing to give him a reprieve. Someone intends to kill the Chinese premier and English is just the sort of nitwit to stumble on the culprits.

And so he does. It's a multi-national squad of assassins known as 'Vortex', who each possess a special key which, used in tandem... turn out to have no use beyond fuelling the goose chase. Boy, does this script put the 'guff' in Macguffin.

Anyway, with original sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) promoted, Johnny must stop Vortex with a new partner, Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya of TV's Psychoville), a wide-eyed trainee who lives with his mum.

He's also assisted by MI7's resident psychologist Rosamund Pike, who, along with Dominic West as a suave fellow agent and virtually everyone else, wisely stands back and thinks of her bank balance while Atkinson does his schtick.

With sight gags pitched at Bean devotees (the best involving an office chair with a mind of its own), Atkinson uses his trademark delivery to ensure that Johnny is as dangerous around plosives as explosives. No shortage of "MMummBBoh-JummmBBoh" here.

But from the man who gave us Blackadder, this is grimly uninspired stuff. Granted, it's all aimed at a broader, global audience but whether verbal or physical, the humour rarely rises above the playground. Reborn? Johnny's still in the womb.

Ripping off Herbert Lom's twitch from the Pink Panther flicks could be construed as 'homage'. But the sight of someone putting their trousers on back-to-front hasn't amused anyone over the age of five since Chaplin was a lad.

And with the exception of some low-flying helicopter work, even the Bond-spoofing stunts are tired. Pastiches of the free-running scene from Casino Royale and the cable car fight from The Spy Who Loved Me feel token, while a motorised wheelchair gag takes an age to go nowhere.

To cap the been-here, seen-this experience, it all ends with a 'mistaken identity' gag that was done way back - and better - in The Naked Gun 2.

So if you're a sucker for Johnny's brand of buffoonery, knock yourself out. As he does. Frequently.

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