Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Johnny English Reborn (2011)

Johnny English may not be Johnny Rotten.

But be warned film fans, there's plenty of dead space in this comedy with Rowan Atkinson. Directed by Oliver Parker, Johnny English Reborn is a sequel to, guess what, Johnny English (2001). I can't comment on the first installment. Based on this effort, I'm not overly anxious to spend the time to view part one.

English (Rowan Atkinson) is a bumbling British secret service agent. Think of him as a cousin to Peter Sellers' inept Insp. Jacques Clouseau.

English bears the weight of an assignment in Mozambique that went terribly wrong. He's doing his time, somewhere in Asia, trying to get back on his game.

When British Intelligence learns a tipster will only confide in English, he's pressed back into service. Turns out there's a plot from a criminal organization dubbed Vortex to kill a senior Chinese leader. Why do these bad guys want this politician dead? I have no idea.

English, being the bumbling idiot that he is, repeatedly misses obvious facts, suspects, etc. etc. His much younger partner, Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), is the brains in this team.

I'm guessing the target audience here is under 18. But then there's the occasional, and I stress occasional laugh, that an older viewer would likely enjoy. When English is told a colleague is a traitor, he can't believe the suggestion. "He went to Eton," English stammers, a reference to a British school founded in 1440. "You have always fascinated me - clinically," offers Kate Summer, a psychologist on the payroll with British Intelligence. When English appears moments away from being caught before he can nab the bad guys in Switzerland, he realizes in horror: "We're going to die at the hands of the Swiss." These are smart lines. Bravo.

But much of the humour is definitely aimed at the very young set. Enjoy someone getting kicked in the groin? Johnny English Reborn will offer you plenty of opportunities to enjoy this abuse.

A running gag with an elderly killer, Killer Cleaner (Pik Sen Lim), gets some laughs, but the same gag gets a little worn by the time this film ends.

My intelligence report on Johnny English Reborn. More laughs can be found in many other films. Take a pass on this one.

RATING: 5/10

FUN FACTS: Dominic West was a palace guard in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace.

Pik Sen Lim was Nurse Kwei Kim-Yen in television's Emergency-Ward 10 in the mid-1960s.

That's Gillian Anderson from The X-Files as Atkinson's boss.