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Review: Johnny English Reborn

I absolutely love the film Johnny English. I’ve seen it so many times I can quote the entire film verbatim (while watching it; I’ve never tried to do it while I’m not watching it, although I suspect I could do if I tried it). So I was stoked when I heard that there was going to be a sequel. My expectations were slightly dampened when I heard Ben Miller could not reprise his role as Bough, but I thought it would be ok providing they could get somebody in who would perform the same role just as well as he could.

After weeks of putting off seeing it I finally saw it yesterday. I was, unfortunately, very disappointed. It’s more in the vein of Daniel Craig’s Bonds rather than the old Bonds, which is what the first film was based on (since it came out in 2003). As such it has to include a lot more complicated elements, which meant that there is more time devoted to plot twists and ergo serious moments. This is in stark contrast to the first film, which had a simple story which left a lot of room for comedy. In addition, the comedy seems quite lazy, which I did not find very funny. It doesn’t help that none of the original writers were involved in writing the story this time.

I think that the main problem was that in this film he’s actually good at combat. This means there’s not much room for the type of physical comedy Atkinson is great at, which was present in the first film. The other one was the lack of chemistry between Atkinson and his new partner; the first film was so good because it had Bough there to be a foil to English’s incompetence, whereas here English is the master while Tucker is competent, though inexperienced. There is no dynamic between them and any interaction between them falls flat.

All in all it seems they did not write it in a way that played to Atkinson’s strengths, which lets the whole thing down. It gets bogged down in plot when it should focus on comedy, and it repeats jokes that weren’t that funny in the first place (such as beating up various old women). Overall, I thought it was a lazy follow-up to a very good comedy film. I hope they do not do a sequel. Especially if they cannot return to the same dynamic as in the first.

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