Rowan Atkinson's bumbling spy is back for more of the same (only this time with more Gillian Anderson! Yay!)....
Universal / 102 Minutes / 2011 / Rated PG / Street Date: February 28, 2012
When we meet Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) in this hit sequel (it made the equivalent of $150 million overseas), he is in a state of self-afflicted exile, studying the solitary grace of martial arts in remote Tibet. As it turns out, though - don't you hate it when this happens? - his Tibetan guru turns out to me an M17 agent, and his duty is to bring Johnny back to headquarters so he can be debriefed on his next mission.
Newly-instated head honcho Pegasus (the wondrous Gillian Anderson) alerts Johnny that there is an assassination effort against the Chinese premier that he must infiltrate and stop from coming to pass. There are team members ready to help Johnny out with his mission, as well as snakes in the grass (there's one M17 agent who turns out to - gasp! - be the bad guy), and maybe even a few international beauties to woo on the way toward successful espionage efforts.
Like newly-minted Best Director Michel Hazanavicius' OSS films, the Johnny English franchise is almost an exclusively European endeavor, a movie that refreshingly seems uninterested in adhering to any kind of narrative or cinematic model that somebody like USA BMOC Michael Bay might utilize. No, there's a breezy, off-the-cuff nature to Johnny English Reborn that lacks Austin Powers' high-profile yuk factor, but still plays as the kind of movie it must have been a blast to make.
Yet Johnny English Reborn runs out of steam with a shocking rapidity, all but slowing to a dead crawl after its opening moments. Atkinson's comic timing and sense of dum-dum oafishness is as lovably zany as it's always been, but Johnny English Reborn quickly goes from bubbly English spy comedy to a Saturday Night Live sketch that drones on too long. Enjoying the company of familiar faces is a treat - Anderson, again, is a true on-screen pleasure, and Dominic West and Tim McInnerny are also enjoyable to follow - but only the most tolerant Anglophile viewers will be able to get through this one without moving attentions elsewhere.