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Johnny English: Reborn

By Jon Rutledge

Johnny English: Reborn, added recently to Netflix, is a vast improvement on its decade old predecessor - less Mr. Bean and more Rowan Atkinson. This time, they get the humour to action ratio right. Now, let's be clear, it still isn't a good movie... but there is a marked improvement. If they make another one it might be even better though, but, that's not likely because of the mild reception this one had within the states (although it grossed over $180M worldwide).

MI7 agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) has failed an important mission and has gone away to meditate and recover in a Tibetan monastery. A contact has information about a plot to kill the Chinese Premier that they will only give to Johnny English. The contact tells English that he is a member of an assassin group, but he dies before giving English more information. He now has to find the other members of the assassin group before they kill the Premier.

The group of assassins calling themselves "Vortex" are comprised of three members. One each from CIA, KGB and MI7. Johnny must find mole in his origination and take them out before he gets framed and takes the fall.

The parody is well done and takes elements from the two most recent Bond films (as opposed to Austin Powers doing the EXACT same thing, albeit through the prism of classic Bond films), an excellent example of the sampling comes in the form of an epic a parkour chase across the rooftops. Instead of running and jumping across air condition units and over fences, English walks around and opens gates to pursue his target. It's a simple gag, but an effective one.

They even have the team that makes those marvelous spy gadgets, with one of the better scenes involving Johnny eying off some candies in the test lab and deciding to pop them in his mouth. As a general safety tip, never, ever just pop something you find in the testing lab into your mouth.

Gillian Anderson plays his new boss and she is a great straight man / straight woman. He also has a junior agent, Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), who performs admirably. Actually all of the cast do well here. Oliver Parker directs the action well enough, but sadly far too many of the jokes fall flat, and when Rowan Atkinson goes into his overly goofy routines it loses my interest.

Johnny English: Reborn improvements are worthy of rewarding, however, despite being better than the first it's still  just a mildly funny film. In the overall range of parody movies, Johnny English: Reborn is far better than the Scary Movie franchise but doesn't come close to the granddaddy of them all - Airplane. If you are a British spy fan, or a fan of Rowan Atkinson, give this a look - but don't expect too much from it.

Conclusion: Movie: 40%

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