Johnny English Reborn Reviews
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The rebirth of Johnny English, 'Johnny English Reborn' is also the rebirth of comedy with a wheelchair chase and some awesome action scenes, how could it not be amusing?
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Considering the film’s sudden release, it did have many unexpected surprises in the package. The biggest surprises about the sequel in comparison to the first film was that the dialogue was a bit darker, more serious and perhaps more realistic. Once again, it features references of the James Bond films in forms of the comedy genre but this time we get a story that fits more into that with more exciting action. It had its laugh out loud humour in the sequel that we felt familiar with from its predecessor. On the other hand, the film did have its weaknesses that wore it down to the slightly lower level at didn’t quite meet the standard required of its predecessor. There were some lacking with character development and acting from some of the new actors, and the scenes with the martial arts weren’t really necessary. Those scenes could’ve totally killed the film (and Rowan Atkinson’s career), so it’s a relief that those scenes were simply cut short.
Rowan Atkinson makes his return as Johnny English, and how great it really was to have him back. Critically, Atkinson needed his breakthrough after the incredibly yet harshly bashed Mr. Bean’s Holiday. Although this film hasn’t received worldwide critical acclaim, he gives a worthy enough performance to remember that shows his true colours as an actor. Rosamund Pike, ironically a previous Bond girl in Die Another Day stars in the “comedy version of James Bond” as Kate, the love interest of Johnny and MI7’s psychologist. She was a satisfactory replacement of Natalie Imbruglia in the first film. Considering that Pike wasn’t in the sequel quite as often as Imbruglia was in the predecessor as Lorna Campbell, the chemistry between Kate and Johnny was a lot more personal. So, fair cops to Rosamund Pike for her performance.
Quite frankly, I felt bewildered at the fact that Pegasus, the Head of MI7 was portrayed by Gillian Anderson when the said character was performed by Tim Pigott-Smith in the predecessor. The decision to change the Pegasus character from male to female in this sequel was clearly inspired from the decision to change M in the James Bond films from male to female. This is not a sexist remark in the slightest, but coming from one’s personal opinion, the decision to change Pegasus from male to female didn’t feel right because it felt like a totally different person in terms of personality. So, Anderson may have looked hot, but character development as Pegasus just wasn’t there. Other new actors Dominic West and Daniel Kaluuya both gave at least satisfactory performances in their respective roles. Unfortunately, Ben Miller never appeared as Agent Angus Bough in the sequel, but Kaluuya as Agent Tucker, Johnny’s side-kick/accomplice was a worthy enough replacement.
In addition to the majority of the cast changing, the selected director is also another slight adjustment in this sequel. Peter Howitt certainly did a very good job on-set of the first film with the sequences within the supposed Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and the real Queen etc. So, that was well handled, and it was a surprise to find out that he didn’t return for the sequel. Anyhow, Oliver Parker’s talents as a filmmaker are not a top-notch masterful style, but due to the cleverly handled action scenes, it is a solid start to a career that could become something worthwhile. William Davies, a co-writer of the first Johnny English alters from screen-writing in a team (also recently co-wrote How To Train Your Dragon), but now goes on to work alone. He goes on to make a solid attempt at writing a script at a high standard of the action-comedy genre as a whole. The film is filled with gags and hilarious jokes that will make you laugh so much, you will not be able to stop until it hurts. So, thumbs up to the director and screenwriter of the film.
Overall, Johnny English Reborn is a surprisingly delightful treat that perhaps was unexpectedly made but turned out as hilarious and as fun as the first film. Rowan Atkinson has performed beyond average once again, and has made up for his role in Mr. Bean’s Holiday. Apart from the few bad decisions and minor weaknesses and like its predecessor, it proves itself a worthy success that will entertain its viewers time and time again over the next few years. Or better yet, we could be in for one final return that completes a possible Johnny English trilogy.
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Out of all the unlikely sequels to materialise over recent years, Johnny English Reborn would have to be the most unexpected. While 2003's Johnny English enjoyed a healthy run at the box office, it endured a harsh reception from both critics and audiences, and sequel prospects were never really discussed. Arriving eight years after its undeservedly bashed predecessor, Johnny English Reborn is not exactly a laugh-a-minute return to form for our beloved Rowan Atkinson, but it is a rather solid effort all-round that scores a few good belly laughs while pulling together an interesting plot which wouldn't look out of place in a James Bond movie.
Once MI7's top spy, Johnny English (Atkinson) goes into exile in a remote Buddhist temple after one of his missions goes tragically wrong. Years later, the Chinese premier is scheduled to visit London, and MI7 has learned of a credible threat to the premier's life. Much to the chagrin of MI7 head Pamela Thornton (Gillian Anderson) and pretty much everyone else, the service is left with little choice but to draft the unorthodox Johnny English back into action at the request of an informant. Brought back to London after spending years training his body and mind, English is equipped with an array of gadgets and given a young partner (Daniel Kaluuya) as he sets out to take down a mysterious organisation of international assassins.
It has been four years since Rowan Atkinson was last seen in a theatrical motion picture (in 2007's Mr. Bean's Holiday), and the man's presence has frankly been missed. Atkinson has an unparalleled comic energy, and it's always a pleasure to witness his brand of humour on the big screen. It's a bit of a shame, then, that Hamish McColl's screenplay is not quite up to Atkinson's brilliance. Hackneyed slapstick and gross-out gags constitute too much of the humour, and only a few of these silly jokes actually land. Put against other spy spoofs (the original Get Smart TV show, the riotous Austin Powers series), Johnny English Reborn is serviceable, but the best laughs are too scattershot. And instead of going for the subversive, too often the filmmakers went for the easiest, cheapest gags, not to mention there are a few scenes that are more uncomfortable than funny due to their blatant predictability. It's doubtful you'll even remember much of the comedy a day after you watch the film, let alone quote lines. On the other hand, though, the climax is full of belly-laughs and impressive action - it's almost worth the price of admission alone, and it almost compensates for the more lethargic stretches.
While Johnny English Reborn is not quite as bubbly and charming as its predecessor, Oliver Parker's direction - and the filmmaking in general - is skilful all-round. One of the best creative decisions was to take the James Bond parody one step further and produce a Bond-esque opening title sequence guaranteed to have viewers in fits of laughter. Another plus is that the film at times feels like a big-budget James Bond blockbuster, especially during the large-scale climax set in the Swiss Alps. The special effects, too, are impressive considering the modest budget. Interestingly, the tone for this follow-up is wholly different to that of its predecessor - while the first film was a hammy, entirely non-serious farce with nothing much at stake, Johnny English Reborn could've passed for a James Bond film or a serious action-thriller if not for English's daftness. The jury is out as to which tone is better, but both styles work to an extent.
Rowan Atkinson is the only notable cast member of the original film to return here. Disappointingly, Johnny's brilliant original sidekick Bough (played by Ben Miller) does not return for this sequel (his only scene was cut). However, Johnny's new partner - played by future Get Out star (and Oscar nominee) Kaluuya - is an adequate replacement, though not outstanding. Dominic West (Punisher: War Zone) is also effective as fellow MI7 agent Simon, while an amiable Gillian Anderson features as the head of MI7. Also in the cast is Rosamund Pike as the token love interest, playing behavioural psychologist Kate. Pike is great here, and it's undeniably fun to witness her tackle such a character almost ten years after she was an actual Bond girl in 2002's Die Another Day. Pike plays her role absolutely straight - much like West, Anderson and Kaluuya - which is a huge asset since nobody looks as if they are in on the joke. Despite all of this talent, Johnny English Reborn is ultimately Atkinson's show, and the man's talent as a performer is on full display here. Atkinson also executive produced the film which exemplifies his dedication to the project, and this is carried over to his completely game performance as the lovable titular buffoon.
For unfinicky audiences who can temper their expectations, Johnny English Reborn should prove to be an enjoyable enough night at the movies. It's an all-round mixed bag, though. The film could have and should have been funnier and more creative, but it has a few laughs, the technical presentation is sound, and it's nice to see Atkinson back in action on the big screen. Stick around for the end credits, too - one of the best gags is saved for last.
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