JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN
DIRECTED BY Oliver Parker
STARS Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson
The 2003 release Johnny English took a beating from most critics, but finding that it capitalized on Rowan Atkinson's abilities better than his Bean movies — and greatly preferring it over those overrated Austin Powers films — it managed to squarely hit my funny bone, thus earning a hearty recommendation. Johnny English Reborn doesn't earn the same measure of respect, but it does contain almost enough laughs to make it worth the ticket price. Falling a tad short, I would suggest adding it to the Netflix queue instead.
As before, Atkinson plays the British agent who sees himself as James Bond but instead comes across as a Limey version of Inspector Clouseau. The comedian has surrounded himself with good actors (Rosamund Pike, Dominic West and, for those wondering whatever became of The X-Files' Agent Scully, Gillian Anderson), but they're not particularly funny actors, thereby robbing Atkinson of a crucial support system. In the 2003 original, English's sidekick was humorously played by Ben Miller and his nemesis was hilariously played by John Malkovich; here, Atkinson is the show, the whole show and nothing but the show. It's a one-man act that he mostly pulls off, but a few more bright gags and a little less reliance on plot mechanics swiped from The Manchurian Candidate would have resulted in a more clever caper.