(Published in BritScene on The National Student and in In Retrospect – Issue 3)
Johnny English Reborn, directed by Oliver Parker, is a sequel to the first Johnny English film released in 2003. Set a few years later, English (Rowan Atkinson) is learning martial arts in Tibet after a disastrous mission which concluded in the assassination of a President. Head Agent at the MI7, Pegasus (Gillian Anderson), requests English back in the UK for a new mission. Along with ‘side-kick’ Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), and the backing of Agent Simon Ambrose (Dominic West) and colleague Kate (Rosamund Pike), English is given the mission of stopping a group of international assassins before they kill the Chinese premier. When the two missions begin to form a link, English is given information about Vortex, a group of assassinations that seem to be behind it all. With two out of three members of the group dead, English is told that the third member is a mole in the MI7, but how will he complete his mission when he is being framed as the mole himself?
Johnny English Reborn is a clever enough film with a decent storyline and engaging characters, but it doesn’t live up to its successfully hilarious predecessor. This sequel is funny on occasions, making you genuinely laugh from time to time, but it feels much more forced second time around.
Everything is much the same as the first film; Rowan Atkinson plays an inadequate agent who gets himself in the most unrealistic of situations, but who somehow manages to work it all out and get the pretty girl at the end. Second time around, it definitely plays out much more averagely, though.
Supposedly a parody of James Bond, this sequel was more like a snippet of scenes from Austin Powers. It even stole one of Austin Power’s key moments when mistaking somebody’s grandmother for an intruder, which the film then over-played, having at least three Grannies (including the Queen) being beaten up and hit over the head with a tray. Over-repetitiveness is never a good thing, and this definitely lost its comedic attribute by the end.
The new additions to the cast are great, though. Gillian Anderson as Pegasus is a perfect fit and I love the scene where her children run into one of her important meetings. Rosamund Pike works well in her role, as well, although both females are somewhat underused by the end.
Daniel Kaluuya, who most of us will know from the first two series of UK teen-drama, Skins, is also great, but he is no replacement for Ben Miller which is what this instalment is severely lacking.
With all things considered, the film seemed more of a spoof than a sequel of a parody. Of course, you can’t beat a bit of Rowan Atkinson, so it wasn’t all bad.
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