In commemoration of the release of the upcoming sequel, JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN (2018), I have decided to review the previous entries. For my review of the sequel, click the following link: JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN (2011).
It should probably go on record that I’ve never actually seen either of the Johnny English films. Couldn’t say why. I think that I thought they looked funny, but… nah, just never saw them. Not much more to say other than… meh, it doesn’t look especially funny now, nor does it look especially painful to sit through, so let’s see what happens.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Rowan Atkinson (LOVE ACTUALLY  and THE LION KING ), Ben Miller (PADDINGTON 2 ), Natalie Imbruglia (stuff I’ve either not seen or heard of), the late Tim Pigott-Smith (VICTORIA & ABDUL  and V FOR VENDETTA ), rest in peace, sir, and John Malkovich (MILE 22 , DEEPWATER HORIZON , and upcoming films BIRD BOX  and VALLEY OF THE GODS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Peter Howitt, known for stuff I’ve either not see or heard of. Co-writing the screenplay, making for a red flag total of three writers, we have duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (SPECTRE ), and William Davies (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON , and the upcoming ABOMINABLE ). Composing the score is Ed Shearmur, known for WIMPY KID 4 (2017) and ELVIS & NIXON (2016). The cinematographer is Remi Adefarasin, known for WHERE HANDS TOUCH (2018), ME BEFORE YOU (2016). Finally, the editor is Robin Sales, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of.
This is my honest opinion of: JOHNNY ENGLISH
Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is an enthusiastic wannabe secret agent for MI7, but hasn’t been given the opportunity to be one because he’s a bumbling idiot. However, every agent for the MI7 is mysteriously assassinated, with the exception of him. As a result, he’s the only agent that can be assigned for the most important mission: protect Crown Jewels. However, he fails that mission and is off to retrieve them from the nefarious French entrepreneur, Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich), whom English’s superiors think is innocent of these crimes, who wants the Queen’s power to take over the world.
Yeah, I have no idea what kind of fanbase is behind this, but if it’s anyone below the age of twelve, then it would make sense because that’s the only demographic that would find this movie amusing.
The primary issue with the film is that… well, it’s just not funny. I mean, for a good hour or so, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the movie’s comedy. Johnny is an idiot. He makes a mistake and covers his failures with lies or misdirection, he’s oblivious to the obvious, he mistakes bad guys for his partner Bough (Ben Miller), his gun breaks apart when he tries to fire it, stuff like that. As the movie implies, it’s supposed to be a parody of James Bond. Well, imagine if you’re a teenager in high school tasked with writing the script. That’s about what you should expect from this movie. I know this because I made a film in high school that had hauntingly similar gags. If my piss-poor high school movie is of equal cinematic quality as this multi-million dollar movie, you know someone goofed big time on Final Draft.
Also, I’m just going to say it, Austin Powers was better. I’m sorry, that franchise was just so much better. It goes balls to wall with its humor. In INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY (1997), it was still a James Bond parody, but was still trying to be its own thing, and was ultimately its own story about a man out of time and learning to properly adapt to his new surroundings, which mirrors the issues that the villain faced. The problem with Johnny English is that the jokes are, “What would James Bond do here, and how can we make it backfire?” It’s repetition without direction. Also, take other great parodies of their genres, like the Naked Gun movies. What do both Austin Powers and the late and great Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin have in common? Charm. You remember their bumbling personalities and maybe even their jokes that look like someone slaved over to make them great and really worked with the actors. However, Atkinson has no charm here. Don’t get me wrong, Atkinson can be amazing. He’s wildly popular as Mr. Bean, so we know that comedy isn’t his weak suit. But somehow, he’s just a little too childish here, and not very likable.
But the worst that this movie offers is definitely the final act. The worst of the movie’s humor is all loaded into this. You have the poop jokes, old men butts, and that god-awful cliché of holding down a microphone that everyone can hear without the guy knowing. It’s just a hodgepodge of humor that didn’t make me laugh or amuse me in the slightest.
I won’t say that some gags didn’t work. There’s a bit where Johnny is in his spy car attached to a crane while in pursuit of some bad guys. That entire sequence was surprisingly well done and made for a fair amount of chuckles. I got more laughs out of Bough than I did from Johnny, who is so oblivious to Johnny’s inadequacies and doesn’t really question much when things go wrong, or drops the issue entirely, constantly eager to please his partner (keep your jokes to yourself), and constantly thinks that he’s amazing.
However, despite it’s PG-rating, and clearly intended for kids, I’m clearly too old to enjoy this movie now. But, kids will likely enjoy its low-brow humor. It’s relatively harmless, but I can’t see many adults enjoying themselves. I’ve seen worse, but it’s far from the best. He knows no fear, or danger. He also knows no comedy.
My honest rating for JOHNNY ENGLISH: 2/5