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Johnny English Reborn


Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Dominic West, Rosamund Pike, Gillian Anderson, Richard Schiff, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Kaluuya

Director: Oliver Parker

Modestly entertaining but much less funny than he might be, Atkinson's inept secret agent is back, stripped of his knighthood and closeted in a Himalayan retreat where, after five years of stern discipline and martial arts training, he is - er - nowhere near ready to face the world again.

Still, he's recalled to MI7 at the request of the Chinese premier, who somehow trusts Johnny to protect him from an assassination attenmpt by the dreaded Vortex. You do hold out some hope that Vortex's mole at MI7 might turn out to be the lovely Pike, which would at least give her something useful to do, but no: the culprit, exposed early on, predictably turns out to be smarmy superspy West.

As usual, Johnny fouls up at every turn, but he's no rival for Sellers' Clouseau in the belly-laugh stakes, The jokes are too telegraphed, although a chair that Johnny is unable to prevent from going up and down during a vital conference is slow-burning enough to provoke more than a few giggles.

A post-credit sequence is probably also worth sitting tight for, even if it owes a considerable debt to Morecambe and Wise. As West flees at the end, he senselessly knocks out his own henchman (the creepy Burn Gorman, one of his co-stars from TV's The Hour): whether in thrillers or comedies, some things rarely change.

David Quinlan

UK 2011. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
101 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 02 Oct 2011