I’m going to do things a little bit backwards here, and give you my score out of 10 straight away. For me, Johnny English Strikes Again is absolutely and unequivocally a 5/10! Because I can’t in good conscience lean towards either good or bad on this one. There’s an internal battle going on here, and it’s tearing me apart! Okay maybe that’s a little OTT, but let me explain.
I was ten years old when the first Johnny English movie came out, and I loved it! I mean what’s not to love? Mr. Bean meets secret agent espionage, yes please! It was exciting, it was hilarious and my brother and I would quote it constantly. However, after going to film school and having the love of basic films like Johnny English beaten out of me, my tastes changed. Again that may be a bit OTT, but you know what I mean – I grew up and my cinema-going experiences expanded.
So here’s my dilemma, the child in me loves the new Johnny English movie, but the film student me despises it. And they’re fighting; it goes a little something like this.
FS (Film School): You make me sick, you know that? How could you even conceive of finding enjoyment in this dreadful excuse for a film?
C (Childhood): But it’s Mr. Bean, HE’S THE FUNNIEST!!
FS: Rowan Atkinson is indeed a genius of comedy, but he has reduced himself to a shameless money grab in this latest instalment of Johnny English franchise. Which I cannot believe has actually happened. Why did they make more than one of these?
C: But what about that scene where Mr. Bean … I mean Johnny is teaching all the school students to be spies, it’s so cute! Or when he beats all those people up by accident, or when he dances and the dubstep drops! He’s so great at physical jokes, everyone was laughing so hard when that happened. Literally everyone!
FS: If the comedy was so remarkable, why did they continually giveaway the gag before it was going to happen? Every moment of humour was built on English saying a certain something would “never happen”, and then that exact thing would happen.
The narrative is literally exactly the same as the first film! Every agent is incapacitated, so they call in English. He bumbles around for a bit, until he disgraces himself so severely he gets thrown off the case. He then disregards those orders, tries to solve the case anyway, AND BY DUMB LUCK, HE DOES!!
C: Woah, are you okay bro? Your face is all red.
FS: (Sighs loudly) I’m fine.
C: Okay… but it wasn’t exaaaaaactly the same. Cause this time they have drones, smart phones and virtual reality. It’s soooooooo cool!
FS: It’s sooooo dumb!
So as you can see this internal battle is getting me nowhere. I guess all I can say is Johnny English has come out at a great time for all the ten-year-olds, with the school holidays approaching. But if you’re a film student – maybe give this one a miss.
– Joshua Baty