Johnny English Reborn Reviews
With a solid balance of story, dialogue, action and humor, 'Johnny English Reborn' is a terrific sequel. One doesn't have to have watched the first film to fully enjoy this one. I was enjoying it so much that I found myself wanting more when it finished. 3 1/2 stars 7-19-13
Saw it again! Good movie! I had a nice time seeing it. Rowan Atkinson's performance was, of course, brilliant. All the other actors also acted great, and I have nothing against this funny, great comedy. Don't watch this film expecting serious stuff. It does what it has to do by making you laugh, and it does that well. Its story might be 'meh' for a lot of people, but it's much better than the story of the first one. Also, the humour is gold and people should like this because of that.
Rowan Atkinson returns to the role of the accidental secret agent who doesn't know fear or danger in the comedy spy-thriller Johnny English Reborn. In his latest adventure, the most unlikely intelligence officer in Her Majesty's Secret Service must stop a group of international assassins before they eliminate a world leader and cause global chaos. In the years since MI-7's top spy vanished off the grid, he has been honing his unique skills in a remote region of Asia. But when his agency superiors learn of an attempt against the Chinese premier's life, they must hunt down the highly unorthodox agent. Now that the world needs him once again, Johnny English is back in action. With one shot at redemption, he must employ the latest in hi-tech gadgets to unravel a web of conspiracy that runs throughout the KGB, CIA and even MI-7. With mere days until a heads of state conference, one man must use every trick in his playbook to protect us all. For Johnny English, disaster may be an option, but failure never is.
There are some chuckles to be had here and I guess the film should get marks for never taking itself too seriously; but even the chuckles come from worn sight gags and a sense for the absurd that never gives the screenplay any hope of being anything but an elongated skit.
The film starts well enough as we hear that some spy who came in from the cold wants to give some very important info to MI7, but insists on only talking to Johnny English who was fired from the spy corp for bungling some mission or other. We then see Johnny in China, doing a laughable Kung Fu sequence as he learns the deep mystic ways. OK, so he's in the orient... and then he's called back into service so he returns to England so he can.... Wait for it... meet with the aforementioned spy in ..... yep, China. Yikes. Way to rack up those frequent flier miles!
It's this kind of lazy writing that truly derails the film; but if you just take this all at face value and say - yeah, ok, make me laugh a little - then the film will work on some remote, juvenile, don't think too hard, level.
Of course this is meant as a farce, but usually in even a farce there is a hidden level of either dark comedy or a poking at the mores and values of the time - I suppose that in the broad sense the mere spoofing of the beloved spy genre could be construed as such, but really, that's a pretty broad assumption. In actuality what you have here is a good natured G rated film that really doesn't offend anyone and has one or two truly laughable moments (as when the "cleaner" assassin takes to the golf course, with her bag turning into a large caliber machine gun).
I suppose that I should not have tread here in the first place, as I didn't much care for Rowan Atkinson's other works (sorry there Mr. Bean), but somehow I had a vague recollection of the first film and since I was in the mood for something whipped cream light and sorta funny... well it was just as advertised... not awful but certainly not worth delving into further (like the misplaced "buddy" aspect, or the "you can't be serious" G rated love interest that the film throws in for apparent good measure).
Whilst the first Johnny English delivered all the goods for what it was selling itself as, and a little bit more, "Reborn" didn't deliver. Based around ten years after the events of Johnny English, English, played by Rowan Atkinson, is once more re-recruited into the service to explore covers up across the globe.
Rowan Atkinson reprises his role as the spy in a, like the film, disappointing fashion. His performance as English in the first film was thoroughly impressive and entertaining to almost all cinema goers, however this time he has delivered a performance which does not live up to his comic standards.
Another notable loss in the cast is that of Ben Miller as his sidekick. Whilst Daniel Kaluuya performs the task of sidekick spy admirably, his character is not portrayed as being better and more sensible than his commanding officer. This hurts the film, as Miller's former character, Boff, formed a light but very funny part of the storyline and character's relationships in the original film.
Dominic West doesn't stretch himself too far with his character, but with appearances from both Gillian Anderson and Richard Schiff the film has a decent cast. English's love interest Kate, played by Rosamund Pike, is a decent performance, but an unnecessary one. Being old enough to be her father, we sense that English and Kate's character relationship is really just a bit too silly and forced through by executive producers who thought the film needed it, when it really, really didn't.
But the main focus of English "2" has to be the screenplay, which overall let the franchise down. The original was full of gags, but also had a decent underlining story and general humorous feel throughout. The sequel is just gags. And when its just gags, films don't work, unless the gags are good.
In the case of "Reborn", they're not. Of course there are funny moments, and moments when the audience can see a glimpse of what was done with the original, but overall, despite decent acting and generally good direction, "Reborn" fails to live up to its predecessor and disappoints as a comedy.