Title: Johnny English Reborn
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Director: Oliver Parker
Screenwriters: Hamish McColl
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West
For a sequel to an unenthusiastically-received eight year-old British comedy, Johnny English Reborn feels weirdly like a breath of fresh air. Neither raunchy nor crude nor ADD-addled, the movie prefers long, elaborate, often very funny gags punctuated by bursts of good-natured verbal silliness. It also stars Rowan Atkinson who, though regrettably absent from the big screen lately, seems now more than ever like one of the greatest physical comedians of all time. His every look and gesture is a model of heightened, hilarious expressiveness. If nothing else, Reborn is mandatory for fans of this British genius, best known stateside in his role as the silent, child-like “Mr. Bean.”
Johnny English himself is a broad James Bond parody, a cheerfully idiotic MI:6 agent who somehow bumbles through impossible assignments retaining his reputation as a suave man of action; he’s like Austin Powers minus the libido, or a less deadpan Lieutenant Frank Drebin. Here, with the help of a new agency head (Gillian Anderson), a sexy analyst (Rosamund Pike), and an eager sidekick (Daniel Kaluuya), he must foil a plot by an international group of assassins to kill the Chinese premier. I had my fill of the plot after about an hour, but the movie consistently tosses out delightful gags and hilarious asides (I loved the debate over whether MI:6 had been infiltrated by a “mole” or a “vole”), and I was still chuckling hours after the screening.
— Eugene Novikov