Movie Review: Johnny English Strikes Out Again

Movie Review: Johnny English Strikes Out Again
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Here’s another unpredictable hit from agent Johnny English. His latest adventure Johnny English Strikes Again is as shallow as they come. Though strangely, it’s still entertaining to watch him strike out.

Despite several obvious flaws, the film’s affable structure is enjoyable to watch. It’s instantly forgettable with nothing truly special happening on screen. Yet there’s an undeniable charm, too. Part of that is having flaws that tout qualities of movies which are “so bad they’re good.”

Most of the jokes are funny even if the vignette-like scenes aren’t. The rare moments of CGI are horrendously animated. And the villain (and his plan!) have the subtlety of a toddler next to an empty cookie jar. Above it, Johnny English still has no shame.

This new adventure sees agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) returning to his work as a spy following a security breach. Back in the field, he travels to France and Scotland to stop a cyber terrorist from destroying the internet.

Such a topical storyline is just the beginning. If the plot or its relationship to technology has you rolling your eyes, stop reading here. Stay far away from Johnny English Stikes Again. Its themes and humour are not for you.

Photo: Universal Pictures

For most humour tastes, however, Atkinson is a truly original comedic talent. He’s unparalleled when it comes to opposites of his characters. He plays the gravely serious and the uncontrollably wacky with the same distinction. And when he does them together, the results are hilarious.

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Take an extended disco dance fight, for example. Or his unsuccessful climb and descent of a yacht wearing magnetic shoes. The best scene by far is a prologue of English as a private school teacher. It’s a giddy delight seeing him give secret spy lessons to his warm middle school students.

What prevents this Johnny English instalment from being so fun is its strange focus on the ethics of technology. The movie’s moral centre seems hyper focused on the disconnect between the aging English and his vain adoration for older gizmos and gadgets. It’s somewhat embarrassing.

His buffoonish antics show no development, and it’s a stretch to accept everyone is apathetic about his incompetence. English’s character nor Atkinson’s performance isn’t the problem though. The issue is there’s been no character advancement in the entirety of the franchise.

Emma Thompson’s scene stealing prime minister is the only one who calls out him as unqualified – with no change afterward. There’s only one way English is still getting away with his incompetence. That’s if everyone else he meets is even more oblivious than he is. And that’s a tall order.

This threequel carries on Johnny English’s distinction of being reliable guilty pleasure movies. It’s far from great filmmaking. Though any movie that leaves audiences smiling must be doing something right. Agents are still investigating.

Johnny English Strikes Again
2 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 29mins. Family Spy Comedy.
Directed by David Kerr.
Starring Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy and Emma Thompson.
Now Playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill.

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