Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Daniel Kaluuya, Richard Schiff and Ben Miller,
Director: Oliver Parker
Screenplay by Hamish McColl and William Davies
Time: 92 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: We saw Johnny English in the 2003 spoof of British secret agent flicks like the James Bond series. Rowan Atkinson (above) is back in this sequel (and not a reboot as the title suggests). If you have seen the 2003 film, you will realise that Johnny English is nothing more than TV's Mr Bean in a bow-tie playing an idiotic version of Bond, James Bond.

In Reborn, it is no different. You can see the Bean-type jokes a mile away.

SYNOPSIS: Since his last screw-up (or "Balls-Up" as the British tabloids said) MI-7 spy Johnny English (Atkinson) has been virtually in hiding. However, he is shown to be in a remote area in Asia, honing his martial arts skills at a Tibetan monastery. But not for long, obviously.

When MI-7 chief Pamela Thornton (Gillian Anderson, pic) learns of an attempt against the visiting Chinese premier's life, she somehow must resort to bringing back English into action. Now, English must employ the latest in the usual array of hi-tech gadgets to unravel a web of conspiracy that permeates the KGB, CIA and even MI-7. He has a young sidekick in Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuva) to help him, and some technical help from behavioural expert Kate Summer (Rosamund Pike).

HITS & MISSES: To the newcomer, Atkinson's Mr Bean may be ludicrously hilarious. Children, especially, are attracted to his bumbling British character. However, after a season or two of Mr Bean, most people will find him overly slapstick and contemptuous. Worse, the gags get very predictable. And this is how it is with Johnny English Reborn. All we see is Atkinson as Mr Bean playing a fumbling spy. Many of the opening gags are laughable, especially those dealing with his kungfu training. However, the laughs and the fun fade when we are faced with an inane assassination plot that any cinema-goer can unravel. If we compare this with Mike Myers' Austin Powers we would find this one a bit more childish.

Most of the funny gags are already shown in the trailers and Atkinson's clownish agent does not endear himself to the audience. The others, however, fare better. Rosamund Pike and Gillian Anderson are a welcome sight, counter-playing Atkinson's silliness. It is nice to see Richard Schiff (of TV's West Wing fame) in a cameo. Another star to watch out for is Kaluuva (pic, above) who supports solidly as the bugged-eyed Agent Tucker.

THE LOWDOWN: Mainly for those who can't get enough of Mr Bean's nonsense.


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