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Johnny English Strikes Again


Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Emma Thompson, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Miranda Hennessy, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Adam James, Michael Gambon, Charles Dance,

Director: David Kerr

'Bugger!', the first word spoken in this eminently redundant sequel, might well be the first word spoken by adult cinemagoers after having suffered Atkinson's third outing as the idiotic, accident-prone secret agent who first appeared in 2003 and returned in 2011's Johnny English Reborn.

Here we find the witless 'hero' reduced to being a teacher who, early on during an outside excursion with his pupils, falls down a hole, thus efficiently establishing the level of sophistication contained in William Davies' increasingly silly screenplay.

Fortunately for the future of British education, a massive cyber-attack exposes the identities of all the country's secret agents, leaving Prime Minister Thompson forced to call on Atkinson to track down the villain and save the country, if not the film.

Having accidentally disposed of three veteran spies (Gambon, Dance and Fox, giving the best but far too brief performances in the film), English follows in the footsteps of celluloid spies Morecambe and Wise in That Riviera Touch by heading to the South of France and bringing the horrible hackers, led by Kurylenko, to book.

Cue a sad slew of overdone, increasingly unfunny slapstick which finds Our Hero - eminently blander than Bond (002 perhaps?) - setting fire to the restaurant while posing as a waiter whose attempts to shell a lobster for a diner would, in real life, have brought on a justifiable onslaught by RSPCA agents; and generally overplaying Mr Bean.

His close encounters of the sexual kind with Kurylenko are truly embarrassing, along with most of his performance which also features him dancing like a drunken uncle at a Christmas party.

Miller deserves praise for keeping a straight face in the face of the drivel he faces as Atkinson's partner-cum-stooge, Thompson's Prime Minister sensibly sends up Mrs May, while director Kerr comes over more as a referee than a director.

Youngsters who to like watch adults make arses of themselves (think Laurel and Hardy but without a trace of their appeal or comic genius) might enjoy themselves. Accompanying adults would be best advised to take sleeping pills.

Alan Frank

UK/USA/France 2018. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by Panalux.
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

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

Review date: 04 Oct 2018