Johnny English Strikes Again
Directed by David Kerry
Screenplay by William Davies
Based on Characters by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and William Davies
Starring Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson
We were fortunate enough to get this screening in early enough that I could write a proper review for one of my favorite modern comedic actors, Rowan Atkinson. Then I struggled to remember the film’s plot details, let alone the villain.
Whot to do, whot to do?!
That’s because I made the mistake of watching the first “Johnny English” on my DVR in between the publication of this review and our screening. In fact, as I was doing research for this review, I tried to find John Malkovich amongst the cast of “Johnny English Strikes Again” only to realise that I had gotten the two films mixed up.
Then I remembered Jake Lacy as Jason Volta, a Silicon Valley tech billionaire. He’s the character who happens to be conveniently in the right place at the right time throughout this story. And why shouldn’t he be? He’s the villain after all.
More on that in a moment.
It seems that MI7 has had a serious data breach as the film opens, a la Brian De Palma’s “Mission: Impossible” and when the remaining MI7 agents are mysteriously killed, the only man for the job is Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson).
In fact, Pegasus (Adam James) and the British Prime Minister, played expertly by Emma Thompson have no choice but to trust in English’s detective abilities.
Atkinson, who has pleased audiences with his physical antics over the years is in fine form here. He’s audacious, bold and stubborn. But we don’t mind that, because we know he’ll get the job done. Somehow.
His trusty sidekick, Angus Bough played by Ben Miller, joins English. Bough is the intelligent one in this duo, but he follows English like . . . well, like an English Terrier. Their deductive reasoning takes them in to the south of France where they meet Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko) on the motor yacht ‘the Dot Calm’.
The highlight of the film is the interaction between Kurylenko and Atkinson, both of whom are Bond alumni. Whether they’re tangoing on the dance floor or chasing each other in exotic sports cars up the steppes outside of Cannes, they play into each other’s strengths as actors.
And, they light up the screen . . . with missiles and deadly serious looks.
Of the many running gags throughout the film, English insists on a lack of technology to solve this caper, a nice counter to the villains’ nefarious data-hatched schemes. It has the effect of making his character larger than life, with the excesses of the past being pitted against the simplicity of a tablet, which can wreak havoc at a moment’s notice.
This is also the film’s weakest point. It makes otherwise more powerful characters seem like bumbling fools. That’s the point, of course: how easy would it be for someone with technology at their disposal to swoop in under the unsuspecting noses of government bureaucrats.
It also hardens our hero to stick to his guns (literally) to find proof of an ill deed against the Crown.
It makes the second gag of the film, an elegantly staged sequence in which English uses Virtual Reality for the first time, with rather hilarious consequences. It puts my sleep walking to shame, honestly.
With all the antics, and the 89-minute run time, director David Kerr gives us a straightforward, if somewhat bland action adventure film full of laughs that will keep you happy.
2.5 out of 4 stars