Saturday, October 6, 2018

'Johnny English Strikes Again': A Bit Repetitive, But Nonetheless a Welcomed Return

Without doubt, any James Bond fan who also had a good laugh with Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean in the 1990s will adore the Johnny English trilogy. The first one, simply titled Johnny English, came in 2003 shortly after Die Another Day was released and with the same team of writers behind the 20th Bond adventure. It was funny, yet it felt a little weak and cheap at times. Much better was 2011's Johnny English Reborn, with a much more developed plot, bugdet and locations, plus the inclusion of a former Bond girl like Rosamund Pike. In that film, Atkinson went a bit further than just mocking 007 and added some Inspector Clouseau antics that made that film more richer.

So, what can we expect from Johnny English Strikes Again?

The third entry of the "greatest" MI7 spy played by Rowan Atkinson has the development of the second one, but the structure it's sadly very similar to the first one, and that's what disappoints a little. Like in the 2003 entry, the threat comes from someone who befriends an important person in the British Government (in this case, the despotic Prime Minister played by Emma Thompson) and wants to ridicule the country from the inside. It all sounds very much to John Malkovich's Pascal Sauvage, but here the villain has some links with Skyfall's Raoul Silva with his obsession of technology and data - which is the way he hacks into the British Secret Service and leaks the identity of every agent. This is what leads to MI7 to hire the retired Johnny English (now a Geography primary school teacher, secretly training kids as potential agents) once again with a number of former operatives in their eighties, two of them played by Charles Dance and Edward Fox.

To get the job done, English reunites with Bough (Ben Miller, who appeared in the first film) and heads to Antibes, from where the prime suspect has apparently initiated the hacking to MI7. As the attacks begin to become more and more frequent (one includes dealing with the London Eye), English thinks the best way to defeat this mysterious villain is to avoid the use of smartphones or any kind of 2.0 technology, which leads to incredibly funny situations.

This is perhaps the most positive point of the movie, the dealing with the old and new ways. How English tries to familiarize with the technology he trivializes and how that takes him to cause panic: for example, the brilliantly done the virtual reality scene where he ends up attacking innocent turists and citizens thinking he has infiltrated the enemy field.

Johnny English Strikes Again is overall funny, but the humour is a bit toned down in comparison to the previous entry. It lacks that punchy feeling Reborn had seven years ago. Also, there are too many parts dedicated to the Prime Minister and her troubles. Some scenes, also, are a bit over the top and predictable, particularly if you watched and remember well the first entry. And while Olga Kurylenko's character is fantastic (and she looks much prettier here than in any film before!), her relationship with Johnny feels a little bit rushed towards the end.

In the end, despite its small flaws, the return of Johnny English is more than welcome and we can always hope another one is coming in the next couple of years!

Nicolás Suszczyk

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