Johnny English is a cut above most comedy sequels, and Rowan Atkinson demonstrates he can still carry a comedic film.
Plot: Johnny English is brought out of field retirement after a cyber attack exposes all of the MI7 operatives in the world.
Review: I thought the first Johnny English was good, but not great. The second movie, I did not actually get around to seeing. So, it was with some trepidation that I decided to go see the third film – in theatres, no less! And you know what? I thought it was…terrific. I actually may think it’s better than the first film.
Let’s start with Atkinson. The rubber-faced comedian to me has always worked best as a silent actor – his Mr. Bean works because Atkinson can convey a series of rapid emotions through over-the-top facial expressions. They brought some of that back in this film, and it works like a charm. The virtual reality sequence that occurs midway through the film is, hands-down, one of the funniest sequences I’ve seen in a movie in a long, long, time. I was laughing so hard; I almost fell out of my seat. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but you have to see it – it’s hilarious.
The plot is not too bad. It covers a lot of topical issues in the world (i.e., the over-reliance in technology, giving someone too much power, etc., etc.). I know, not ground-breaking stuff, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t something completely ridiculous. The villain is basically a Mark Zuckerberg-type, a young, smarmy, know-it-all who holds power over all because of his tech know-how. The guy just oozes arrogance, and when he tries to come across as likeable, he ends up anything but. He’s a guy you’re rooting to get his comeuppance.
Another relevation was Olga Kurylenko as a Russian counterpart to English. While she exuded absolutely zero sex appeal in another spy film, Quantum of Solace, she’s remarkably more attractive and infinitely more interesting in this film. She’s a great counterpart to English, and the movie picks up whenever she comes on screen. Bringing Ben Miller back as Bough was another great move as his straight-faced expressions are a great foil for Atkinson’s unalderated buffoonery.
Like most comedies, there are times when the laughs fall flat, and this one is no exception. While nothing immediately comes to mind, aside from the virtual reality sequence, there wasn’t a lot of what I think of as “belly laughs” – there was more chuckles or snickers than anything. At least it illicted that sort of response instead of my usual eye-rolling for most modern comedies.
As for the action, there is some, though obviously, the movie plays more for laughs than fireworks. The cinematography was okay, and the music wasn’t terribly memorable. There are some nice cameos, especially near the beginning that I won’t spoil.
Overall, the movie was worth my $12 or whatever I paid for it. It was effective in what it was trying to achieve, and Atkinson’s English is an engaging enough character that you don’t mind watching his hijinks for 90 minutes. It probably won’t win any awards or be on anyone’s top ten of the year, but it certainly shouldn’t be considered amongst the worst, and if this is the end of the Johnny English franchise, at least it left on a high note.