Saturday, August 06, 2011

Johnny English Reborn (2011) - A Review

Okay, I can see that look and I know what's going through your mind because the very same thing went through my mind but believe me, Johnny English Reborn is actually not so bad. It's really pretty funny. In this well-placed and fairly neat parody of Rush Hour, Bond films and all the spy movies that were ever made, Rowan Atkinson again rides as the accidentally tremendous British secret service agent, who has become a little older but his wisdom or the lack thereof, has not really improved.

It has been eight years from the time when English was first seen, and a lot of things have taken place since then. Fired and disgraced following a failed mission in Mozambique, he has been utilizing a monastery in Asia as a physical-training and spiritual retreat. He is given an opportunity to redeem himself when he is re-called by the government to unearth a top secret plot to snuff out the premiere of China while he is meeting with the British Prime Minister. The show features head of operation, Gillian Anderson, whose British accent leaves a lot to be desired, and a behavioral psychologist played by the wonderful Rosamund Pike, who inexplicably falls in love with English. The film also features Pik-Sen Lim, the British-Chinese actress who was a regular staple in the 1970s sitcom. She is debatably the breakout comedic star of the movie in her role as a cruel, vacuuming elderly assassin.

There are the typical visual gags involving people sitting on cats and individuals being hit in the head; along with the clich├ęd act of guys getting kicked where it really hurts. I am still trying to find out why that is considered funny. Anyway, there are a number of awesome plot twists and hilarious verbal jokes. Most importantly, Atkinson still excels at physical comedy and is in rare form in this film. Some of the jokes evoked from the film were muted but a number of them are laugh-out-loud funny. During the muted periods, the audience knows that it is only a matter of time before the punches are transformed into punch lines. Humor and action are all rolled into one as inspired buffoonery collides with the twists and turns of a spy story.

The film is most excellent when it owns the age of Atkinson and by extension English. The getting of wisdom, a concept riffed on thematically and comedically, permits our hero to intermittently downplay a few scenes. These work well, offering all too uncommon glimpses of the authentic comedic mastermind of Atkinson that unrequited lovers of Rowan Atkinson Live and Blackadder will crave while watching the film.


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