Johnny English Strikes Again: The words ‘unexpectedly brilliant’ don’t feature in this review

Review: Rowan Atkinson returns as the bumbling agent armed with everything but jokes

Trailer for the sequel to the spy spoof movie, Johnny English.

Film Title: Johnny English Strikes Again

Director: David Kerr

Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 89 min

Thu, Oct 4, 2018, 06:00


The words “unexpectedly brilliant” will not feature in this review.

As long ago as 2003, Johnny English, an entirely superfluous spy spoof, was already underwhelming and outmoded when it transitioned from likable TV advertising campaign to the big screen. The belated 2011 sequel didn’t offer much of an improvement, but it was an absolute riot placed beside this unnecessary, half-baked third film. Will we ever be set free?

Frustratingly, there are aspects of Johnny English Strikes Again that promise an almost-tolerable viewing experience. Emma Thompson, playing a half-bright British PM, looks not unlike the current holder of that office. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to be me?” she moans. “In the face of events and facts and voters?”

Sub-Clouseau routines include setting fire to a restaurant and beating a deli-counter assistant with baguettes

Sadly, Thompson and the charming talents of Jake Lacy (playing a tech-bro billionaire) and Olga Kurylenko are squandered by a script that doesn’t seem to contain a single joke.

A ludicrous plot – not even sure the word applies – sees the titular spy and his long-suffering sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) head to France to investigate a breach of cyber-security. There, he meets Russian spy Ophelia Bulletova (Kurylenko) and bumbles about for a bit. Various sub-Clouseau routines include setting fire to a fancy restaurant, beating a deli-counter assistant with sourdough baguettes, and tossing a tour bus guide off the top of a double decker.  

Rowan Atkinson contorts and gurns and works facial muscles you didn’t even know existed, but even his shenanigans can’t enliven this under-written, mirthless enterprise. One can’t help but feel that this is the Brexit Britain film that Brexit Britain deserves. Take your Aston Martin and keep on driving.