Review: JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 9 October 2011



The sequel that (nobody) asked for. Remember JOHNNY ENGLISH back in 2003? (You can also read my review here). That so-called James Bond spoof was a shockingly unfunny movie that certainly hurt the comedic reputation of Rowan Atkinson who once gave the world MR. BEAN. But I guess Atkinson and the filmmakers figure it's worth a second shot to improve better in an unlikely sequel called JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN. After all, it's been 8 years long since the ill-fated first movie and I'm sure there should be some sort of improvement. Too bad that's hardly the case because JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN still suffers miserably from Atkinson's tired old gags and the whole movie is also the same old tired James Bond spoof we have seen countless times before.

Well, at least the first 20 minutes or so this sequel does inject some life into it: The sequel begins with Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), MI-7's top spy who is now in five years' exile somewhere in a remote region of Tibetan monastery where he has been training his martial art and meditation skills, following from his embarrassing mission failure at Mozambique. But it wasn't long before he is brought back to MI-7 by his superior-in-charge, Agent Pamela Thornton (Gillian Anderson) to stop an assassination attempt on the Chinese Prime Minister by an international group of assassins. A young trainee agent, Tucker (Daniel Kaluuva) is subsequently enlisted to tag along with English for the mission. The first scene where English and Tucker goes to Casino Lisboa in Macau before subsequently shifted to Kowloon, Hong Kong where they encounter a wicked old lady (an amusing Pik-Sen Lim), a hired killer disguised as a cleaner and a Chinese bad-guy fighter. In one amusing gag that parodied the parkour scene, English casually finds easy way to go one step ahead of the Chinese bad-guy fighter who does every acrobatic stunts to escape as far as he can. That's not all, the movie elaborates further with a high-speed boat chase before ends up in a hilarious mano-a-mano fight scene above the dock.

So far so good, but it's a real pity that the rest of the movie nosedives into a series of lazily-constructed and draggy scenarios. Sure, there are few worthwhile gags somewhere in between (the chair gag where English admires the height of the mechanism and plays with it during an important meeting with the British Prime Minister, played by Stephen Campbell Moore and another one involving English in a high-speed wheelchair chase sequence) but they are not enough to justify the entire whole.

William Davies and Hamish McColl's screenplay suffers mostly from languid pacing that there are some scenes feel long-winded. Taking over original director Peter Howitt is Oliver Parker, who is at least slightly better in term of delivering some worthwhile laughs and colorful action sequences. But other than that, his direction is mostly stiff.

Cast-wise, Rowan Atkinson still possess that trademark rubber-faced expression after all these years, even though he's no longer as funny as he used to be. Dominic West is effective playing a fellow MI-7 agent Simon Ambrose who has hidden agenda of his own, while Daniel Kaluuva is equally energetic as English's rookie sidekick, Tucker. But Gillian Anderson and Rosamund Pike look disappointingly flat in their performances.

Overall, JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN doesn't really help much to revitalize Rowan Atkinson's fading career and personally, I think this comedy franchise should put an end already.


The Reviewer said...

I think that you have been a tad too harsh on this one Casey.

Rowan has a very 'English' way about his comedy, that does not always translate to other countries. Also, his style at times is somewhat reminiscent of the old 'music hall' tradition - bold in execution and mannered in tone.

caseymoviemania said...

Haha... well... I really enjoyed Rowan Atkinson's hilarious act when he did that MR. BEAN tv series. But his successful sense of humor doesn't translate well in the big screen. How should I put it... it's like his humor is more or less the same old recycled joke we have seen too many times already.