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Review: Johnny English Strikes Again

Johnny English Strikes Again
4 10

PLOT: After a cyber-attack reveals the identities of all currently serving MI7 agents, the British P.M (Emma Thompson) is forced to reactivate her only non-geriatric agent still off-the-grid, the one and only Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson).

REVIEW: How is the JOHNNY ENGLISH series still going? I remember the original being something of a flop, while the sequel, as far as I remember, didn’t set the box office on fire either. Is there still an audience for this creaky spy spoof? To my surprise, it turns out that audiences around the world are still very much in the Rowan Atkinson business, with both previous installments topping out at a hefty $160 million worldwide, while this third film, which is primed to open and close without much of a peep at the North American box office, has already grossed nearly $100 million. Not bad for Atkinson, who, at sixty-three, has turned out to be more enduringly popular than a lot of his contemporaries.

To give him some credit, he’s still quite spry and even somewhat dapper as an older gentleman. Oddly enough, I almost preferred the scenes of Johnny English playing it straight, as happens occasionally in these, rather than the constant pratfalls. There's a genius gag where some old English spy actors show up as fellow MI7 retirees, inclusing a cameo by an actor I hadn't seen in years. Also, watching English lecture MI7 techs about going analogue and mocking them for not even having a gun to give him (it’s not P.C) is pretty bang-on funny and suggests a wittier, more knowing satire of the genre could have been done had they been able to scrap everything else.

Instead, JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN is just another poor man’s Inspector Clouseau/ Austin Powers, with the premise of Jake Lacy’s tech wiz wanting to launch a cyber-attack being pretty ho-hum. Atkinson throws himself into the part and the more modest slapstick, as simple as him juggling a smartphone or getting a tiki umbrella stuck in his nose, is still funny. But, the bigger more-action driven gags fall flat and the movie is awash in them. Within twenty or so minutes I was hoping for a quick wrap-up. Too bad it stretches everything out to ninety minutes, which feels like an eternity.

Even still, Emma Thompson steals a few scenes as the pissed-off P.M (gimme a vodka tonic – hold the ice – hold the tonic!) while Olga Kurylenko is still sumptuously gorgeous as his Russian nemesis/ally. I also like watching Atkinson drive old-time sports cars, such as the Aston Martin Vanquish he sports here, as it’s always struck me as ironic that this guy famous for playing bumblers can drive like Jean Paul Belmondo.

If you’re one of the folks that helped the last two JOHNNY ENGLISH movies crack $160 million, than have at it. You’ll probably like this (somewhat cheap-looking) sequel, as Atkinson gives it his all. Everyone else is better off just watching old Mr. Bean shorts and Black Adder reruns on YouTube.

Source: JoBlo.com

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