Mr Bean does James Bond. That one sentence pretty much sums up this entire movie. If you like the slapstick antics of Rowan Atkinson’s most famous (in Malaysia, at least) character, then this film is for you.
In this third (yes, they’ve made three of these already) movie in the franchise, Johnny English (Atkinson) is happily retired, and teaching schoolchildren how to be a spy (without the school’s knowledge).
But when a cyber attack exposes all of Britain’s secret agents, MI7 is left with no choice but to call Johnny back into service.
With his trusty sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) back by his side, English attempts to use his (very few) skills and strictly analogue methods to battle a highly sophisticated digital criminal.
Along the way, he meets the beautiful Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko), who may or may not be working for the enemy.
Let’s be frank here: if you like Mr Bean, you’ll probably like this. It’s got all the subtleness of a red-nosed pink elephant with clown shoes on, and most of the set pieces are just so pointless that they exist merely as an excuse to let Atkinson do his thing.
Johnny wooing Ophelia and getting a cocktail umbrella stuck in his nose? Check. Johnny clanking about in a suit of armour? Got that. An entire dance sequence of Johnny doing the Mr Bean dance? Sure.
To be fair, there are some funny bits here and there. The scene where Johnny does virtual reality while wandering about in the real world is nothing new, but Atkinson manages to keep it fresh and relatively funny.
As for the rest of the cast, Miller’s Bough is still one of the best characters in the franchise, his earnest loyalty to Johnny and straight-laced humour providing a relief from Atkinson’s in-your-face antics.
The criminally-wasted Emma Thompson hams it up well enough as the inept British Prime Minister, while Kurylenko doesn’t really have much to do apart from dressing up in pretty dresses and pointing guns at people.
In the end, though, this is Atkinson’s movie, and director David Kerr knows it. Kerr lets the comedian completely off the leash to run riot with his antics throughout the movie.
There is so much Atkinson in the movie that even when the scene doesn’t involve him, you half-expect him to jump out of a teacup or a cupboard at any point.
Now, it wouldn’t be so bad if we had more of the intellectual comedy Atkinson, as seen in shows like Black Adder. Heck, I’d love to watch him actually use that persona more. Unfortunately, it’s the slapstick Atkinson that seems to get most of the action these days, and that is what we’re stuck with in this movie.
So, if you like Mr Bean… no, if you REALLY like Mr Bean, then you will probably like Johnny English Strikes Again. For the rest of us, we hope it’s three strikes and out for Mr English.
Johnny English Strikes Again
Director: David Kerr
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Olga Kurylenko, Ben Miller, Emma Thompson, Jake Lacy