JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN
(Dir. Oliver Parker, 2011)
Of all the unnecessary sequels this year, (THE HANGOVER PART 2, PIRATES 4, CARS 2, etc.) this is the most perplexing. I mean, there really can’t be many out there who were fans of “Johnny English,” which came out nearly a decade ago, right?
But it was a huge hit and that’s all it takes for Hollywood to approve a follow-up so here we have it: the return of Rowan Atkinson as the bumbling blend of Mr. Bean and James Bond.
It’s standard superspy satire stuff, the kind that we’ve seen tons of times with a secret evil organization’s assassination plot thwarted through a series of comic action sequences.
This amounts to one groaner after another, yet every now and then there’s something that’s almost amusing. One such bit has the suave yet daft Atkinson, who we first catch up with training in Tibet to become a Martial Arts master, engaged in a roof-top chase.
Obviously a call-out to the BOURNE series (JOHNNY ENGLISH RE-BOURNE?), the scene features Atkinson catching up with his prey without death defying stunts but calmly approaching through sly maneuvers and even taking an elevator to the ground while the bad guy climbs down scaffolding. I almost came close to a slight chuckle.
The rest is tired terrain as you can guess the villain right off the bat, and sense every joke coming way before they arrive. Mixed up in these pointless shenanigans is The Wire’s Dominic West as Atkinson’s colleague, X-Files’ Gillian Anderson as their boss “Pegasus,” and Rosamund Pike as the obligatory love interest.
The best I can say about JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN is that it’s slickly made (Oliver Parker’s direction is sharp and Danny Cohen's cinematography is shiny), and kids will probably enjoy it as Atkinson is a likable bloke who can pull off some sturdy slapstick.
None of it made me laugh out loud, but folks around me were laughing hysterically so I guess there’s an audience out there for this brand of obvious lowbrow humor.
If you do happen to be a fan of Atkinson’s shtick make sure you stay through the end credits because there’s a bonus scene highlighting the man’s cooking skills that, like I said about a few other bits here, is almost amusing. Almost.