UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2018)

 

Director: David Kerr

 

Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson

Here’s Johnny!

 

Rowan Atkinson returns for a third stint as bumbling spy Johnny English, seven years after his last outing, and in a threequel which was met with surprise when it was announced. With that fairly large gap since the last attempt - which was fairly well-received - it was interesting to gauge the appetite for another fling (which was more surprise than celebration). Still, there’s nothing the English do better than a good old spy flick, no?

Enjoying his retirement whilst working as a geography teacher, Johnny English (Atkinson) is called back into the Prime Minister’s (Thompson) service after a cyber-attack exposes the identities of all current serving MI7 agents. Tasked with finding those responsible, and with sidekick Bough (Miller) by his side, English sets off on his mission where surely nothing can go wrong? Especially when a sultry Russian spy, Ophelia (Kurylenko), gets involved…

 

Rowan Atkinson is a national treasure. From Mr. Bean to the sublime Blackadder (and everything in between and either side), he has always had a wonderful knack for comic timing and delivery. In those first Johnny English movies, the formula worked and the Atkinson charm worked, however, in Johnny English Strikes Again everything feels…well…old now. There’s still that certain charm to Atkinson who is as watchable as ever, but the energy which helped keep the previous movies afloat seems to have disappeared this time around. Many of the gags manage to raise a titter whilst a fair few fall flat – the lack of real laughs is very apparent though. Like most, comedies live or die for me on whether they are actually funny and Johnny English Strikes Again fails the test.

 

Emma Thompson seems to be having a ball as the PM and Kurylenko, whilst she looks the part, she looks/appears confused as to why she agreed to star in the movie. In these days of Kingsman etc., a good old spy spoof is always welcome, though for 2018, The Spy Who Dumped Me takes the crown for best effort.

 

As a movie, Johnny English Strikes Again is perfectly serviceable – it looks good, sounds good, and is well-acted for the most part – but the required spark just isn’t here and when the gags aren’t landing, the movie is left looking a bit naked and uninspired.

October 31st 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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