This movie wants to be Austin Powers. It’s the same set-up, the same cringe humor, the same British secret service bumbler who nevertheless gets the job done (in spite of his inherent ineptitude). The difference: Austin Powers is ten times more amusing. Rowan Atkinson tries, and sometimes succeeds, but mostly seems to be resting on his Mr. Bean laurels.
Granted, I didn’t see the original Johnny English films, and maybe those were hysterical enough to warrant a threequel.
Johnny English Strikes Again had a half-baked plot, propped up by a few amusing set pieces. The Virtual Reality sequence was certainly a highlight. I’d see the movie just for that cute and wacky scene. (I loved seeing English using baguettes like fighting staffs.) But the rest of the film went like this: English makes a mistake, his servant Bough would quietly fix it and take no credit; then English would preen. End scene; repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Fade to black.
The genre is getting a bit full anyway. Now we have a whole range of Brit intel movies, on a seriousness continuum from the (modern) James Bond movies, to the less straitlaced but still cohesive storytelling of The Kingsman, on down through the mediocre levels of Johnny English, to the bottom of the deliriously silly level with Austin Powers.
I just don’t see a need for Johnny English. And I think the audience agrees with me. Who sat in the theater on opening night? Me. And one or two other people. Whereas my earlier showing of Mid-90s was packed.
But, as I said, there were a few good moments to be mined. English teaching the kids how to be spies was cute. The aforementioned VR scene was great. There was a message buried in the film about how the world of espionage has changed with the advent of cell phones and cyber space. How we view technology will never be the same as Bond’s good old analog days, and it’s a nice bit of self-awareness for a spy movie to recognize this — it’s gone beyond nifty pens that become grenades (although, granted, this is tossed in there too). And there’s an interesting contrast between the iconic red Aston Martin spy car and the more useful hybrid. The world is changing, and spies have to adapt.
I might be making this movie sound better than it is. Let me rest your noggin: I gave this film a C-. I doubt it will last more than a week in the theaters, but it might have some life on streaming platforms. My suggestion: if you LOVE Atkinson, Mr. Bean and/or the first two Johnny English films, by all means see this in the theater. Otherwise, this is an easy one to skip. Save your money.
About The Peetimes: Here are 2 good Peetimes, where were you won’t miss any of the best humor or action. Both are 4 minutes in length and nicely spaced apart.
There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Johnny English Strikes Again. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)
Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)