Johnny English Reborn
Imagine Mr Bean in the guise of a detective in a ‘James Bond’ parody.
That is one way of describing ‘Johnny English Reborn’. The only
difference is that the main character can voices his opinion and gets
into less scrapes than Mr Bean.
Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English
With less humour intact, the unlikely hero wins the day by managing
to accomplish his mission and win the fair lady’s hand. This much
hackneyed theme of the story offers the audience nothing new and would
have gone unnoticed if the well loved Rowan Atkinson had not given life
to the lead role.
The sequel to the 2003 ‘Johnny English’ movie, 2011’s ‘Johnny English
Reborn’ sees English in another overly calculated comedy of errors.
After a training session at a Tibetan monastery in which he learns some
martial arts techniques and how to train the mind, English returns to
Her Majesty’s Secret Service to be assigned on a special mission to
thwart an attempt on the Chinese Prime Minister’s life by spy Chief
Pamela Thornton. Thoroughly humiliated by English’s messed up job in
Mozambique, Thornton warns English that she will not tolerate another
scenario of the kind only to realize that she had uttered her words too
With English and an equally incompetent new detective on the job a
series of comic incidents follow from chasing Chinese assassins on
rooftops and the sea to mistaken identities and having valuable objects
robbed from right under their noses. Some of the genuinely comic
incidents arise in these episodes. In one scene English grabs Thornton’s
mother from behind, believing her to be the Chinese female assassin. In
another he tries to level his chair at a meeting by working on an
electronic gadget. The fact that Atkinson plays the incident with a
straight face while sitting next to the Prime Minister adds to the
merriment. It is truly worth a chuckle because he pulls it off in true
Mr Bean style. This is probably the best gag in the film since the event
occurs when serious talk is abuzz. However throughout the story the
laughs are few and far apart. This lets down ‘Johnny English Reborn’
badly because the livewire of the film is supposed to be its comic
Training at a Tibetan monastery
Rowan Atkinson is the only saving grace of ‘Johnny English Reborn’.
That is because he had made an unparallel mark in the audience’s hearts
as Mr Bean. It is not the buffoonish British spy that they are here to
cheer but their affection for Mr Bean. Unlike in his ‘Mr Bean’ series
Atkinson’s comic antics seem a bit too oblivious in ‘Johnny English’.
Even the talented Gillian Anderson’s presence does not evoke much
interest as the storyline falls flat. However she is the only actor out
of the lot who seems to retain the most dignity and delights us in
barely masking her contempt.
Rosamund Pike is not convincing as the beautiful special agent Kate
Summers. There is hardly any chemistry between her and English. It is as
if her character and English’s have been forced together to give a hint
of romance to the comedy and make it more ‘James Bond’ like. However
Daniel Kaluuya as English’s young partner, Agent Tucker, works wonders
into the tale. His character is well rounded from joining in English’s
crazy antics to making more level headed remarks which outwit English.
In a way he is the unsung hero of the story for if you had let him have
his way, the assassins would have been caught several episodes ago.
Some of the gags in the story are quite eye catching and generates
interest. Unfortunate director Oliver Parker seems to be too deeply
involved in the action to explore these avenues. One such example is the
voice-controlled-Royce that can follow its owner around on command. It
is a pity that such an interesting device only comes to light in two
scenes and does not have a bigger part to play.