I have been a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson ever since I was a young lad, watching the video versions of him as Mr. Bean. In 2003, when the first Johnny English movie came out, I had to see it. His slapstick antics mixed with that English accent you rarely hear in Mr. Bean makes him a wonderfully entertaining character. And, of course, what could be better than parodying the James Bond genre? Reprising his role last year, Atkinson blazed on screen with his good looks and salt and pepper hair. Although he may be getting older, he’s not slowing down one bit.
We are whisked away in the first scene of Johnny English 2: Reborn, to the mountains of Tibet. English is training among the monks in order to repent for an earlier mission that sends English into a state of Vietnam flashback nostalgia. With some great slapstick to kick off the movie, Johnny English discovers that his skills are needed yet again back in MI7. Once he arrives back in the U.K, English must become reacquainted with the newly refurbished MI7. Now owned by Toshiba, English’s penchant for the past and the old way of doing things comes clashing into the wave of the future. Let the insanity ensue.
Assigned a new partner, Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), and some new gadgets invented by Patch Quartermain (Tim McInnerny) it is up to English to protect the Chinese ambassador from being assassinated during his discussions with the Prime Minister. What Johnny English discovers is a secret plot that has been brewing ever since his mishap in Mozambique. With intrigue and sleeper agents galore, who can English trust?
There are some great characters and actors introduced into this second movie that make up for losing John Malkovich and company in the last one. We’ve got Gillian Anderson, better known as Agent Scully from the X-Files, as the leader of MI7. This is the second time I’ve seen her in a film with a mostly British cast (i.e. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) and she pulls off that air of superiority well. There’s also one of my favorite British actors, Dominic West. Having first ever saw him in 300 as the traitorous senator, West has made a career as wonderfully suave British men. Portraying Agent 1 in this film, he’s someone I could’ve seen as Bond, more than Daniel Craig.
What else is there to point out in this film? There’s the evil killer cleaning lady. In a fight of the old farts, its a struggle for Atkinson to come out on top. There’s all of Johnny English’s old gags and jokes, done just to show that he knows what the people want, and he can still deliver. There’s new jokes, as expected, but at this point in Rowan Atkinson’s career, I think he’s just doing movies for the hell of it. He’s an established, wonderful actor who is just doing movies for fun now. Or, at least, that’s the vibe I’m getting from his acting in these films. And, by all means, make Mr Bean/Johnny English movies until the day you die, Mr. Atkinson. They are all wonderfully entertaining and funny.
If you haven’t seen the first one, by all means, check it out. And watch this one immediately after. They’re sure to make you laugh, even if you aren’t into British comedy. They’re wholesome, spot on Bond spoofs (the first more than the second) and they establish a character you come to love and adore. What more could you want from a film? His name is English, Johnny English. And he deserves a 007 out of 10 for this film.