Rowan Atkinson reprises his role as the clueless English spy in Johnny English Reborn. The original Johnny English was released in 2003 and earned an impressive sum of $160 million around the globe, though only $28 million coming from the U.S. Will the sequel rack up some dough in the states the second time around?

Chances are that fans of Mr. Bean and families will show up to support this child-friendly film and probably enjoy doing so. Johnny English Reborn travels the globe, jumping from London to Hong Kong to Switzerland, and tells us the story of English’s return to MI7. There’s an impressive cast involved that could’ve easily been cast in an actual James Bond flick. So, with that in mind, let’s see if it was necessary to reborn this Johnny English.


The Players:

  • Director: Oliver Parker
  • Writers: William Davies, Hamish McColl, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
  • Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West
  • Original Music by: Ilan Esheri
  • Cinematography by: Danny Cohen

The Plot:

Johnny English comes back to MI7 after learning martial arts in Tibet as punishment for an earlier disastrous mission in Mozambique. MI7 (codenamed Toshiba British Intelligence) identifies him as the best agent for a new mission which requires stopping a group of international assassins before they kill the Chinese premier and cause global chaos.

The Good:

  • Clever Moments: The first 20 minutes of the film build up English’s character as a super clever spy. He chases after an Asian gentleman, but instead of exhausting himself by jumping off buildings or climbing down ladders, he takes a more subdued approach. He takes an elevator, for example. It wasn’t very funny seeing English avoid the action, but it does leave one in awe that one character (the Asian) is running for his life while the other (English) is just barely running and still catching up.
  • Playing It Straight: One of the ways comedy seems to work is when the characters play it straight, as if they really believe that they are stuck in this situation. The latest example I can think of is 30 Minutes or Less when Jesse Eisenberg‘s character really thought he was going to die. That’s what this movie does. It plays it like a drama adding characters that would make sense in the world of espionage, but then adds this dim witted Johnny English to bring in more laughs.
  • Chair Scene (SPOILER!): Possibly the best gag in the entire movie. The chair scene could stand alone as just a great funny moment. What works is that Johnny English plays it with a straight face. He’s sitting next to the Prime Minister, but isn’t moved by the fact that his chair is higher and then lower than everyone else.
  • Daniel Kaluuya: Kaluuya plays Agent Tucker, Johnny English’s new sidekick. He makes a very enthusiastic partner and steals every scene he’s in. Each time, you’re just yearning for him to come back because he’s so charming and naturally funny.

The Bad:

  • Clever, But Not Really Funny: The beginning of the movie is quite clever, but just when you think that this is going to be a clever and funny movie, Johnny English dives into a series of events where he screws everything up and the cleverness is gone. It would be wrong to say that the movie doesn’t have its funny moments, but the laughs are few and far between. Even though it sometimes works for the other characters to act serious around Johnny English, at some point you just have to ask yourself, how can these people coexist with someone like him? And that’s where you start rolling your eyes…
  • Very Specific Humor: Even if you’re a fan of spoof comedy – Austin Powers, Ace Ventura, or Mr. Bean – this humor here is childish at best. There is a market for it out there. Perhaps those kids who like seeing grannies get punched or men forcibly put on lipstick.


Rowan Atkinson is a funny guy, onscreen. Undoubtedly he’s a guy who can make you laugh with a simple change of facial expression, but Johnny English Reborn isn’t his best work. There’s an impressive cast involved that acts as if this were an actual James Bond film, and while that works occasionally, it doesn’t save the film.

Rating: 5/10

Johnny English hits theaters October 21st!

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Johnny English Reborn opens October 21.