Rowan Atkinson returns as the bumbling and inept spy Johnny English in Johnny English Strikes Again from Universal Pictures. The third entry in the franchise finds Johnny enjoying life as a geography teacher at an elite boarding school. However, Johnny actually spends most of his days training his students how to be spies.
After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all active undercover agents in Britain, the British Prime Minster (Emma Thompson) has called on retired agents to save the day. After comic mistakes leave Johnny English as England’s last hope, English dives head first into action with the mission to find the mastermind hacker. As a man with few skills and only analog methods, Johnny English must overcome the challenges of modern technology to make this mission a success. Along the way, his old chum Angus Bough (Ben Miller) and undercover Russian spy, Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko) assist him on his mission.
David Kerr makes his feature film-directing debut with in Johnny English Strikes Again. Kerr succeeds in letting Rowan Atkinson display his natural comedic talent. Atkinson successfully pulls off one-liners, with physical comedy and sometimes a simple look. There were moments in the film, where my side started to hurt from laughing so much. One of my favorite scenes in the film involves Johnny participating in a Virtual Reality training experience that goes terribly awry.
William Davies, who wrote both of the previous films, returns for scripting duty and he still knows the character of Johnny quite well. The situations that William Davies comes up with for the character, who has an old school spy approach in a digital world, are often hilarious and the majority of jokes land. I also enjoyed the element of the script that highlights how dangerous technology can be in the wrong hands.
Emma Thompson does solid work as the British Prime Minster, while the rest of the supporting cast is also good. Atkinson has a natural chemistry with Olga Kurylenko, as the witty banter shared between them kept a smile on my face throughout the film’s duration. Another one of my favorite moments in the film involves Ophelia’s failed attempt to shoot Johnny on a nightclub dance floor. Ben Miller was also enjoyable as Johnny’s sidekick, Angus Bough. There were moments in the film where it is clear that Angus does not want to go along with Johnny’s plans, as the plan does not make sense, yet Angus does. When plans do end up going awry, the look on Ben Miller’s face makes the joke of it all more effective.
My one complaint with Johnny English Strikes Again would have to be Jake Lacy as the villain, Jason Volita. While I understand the filmmakers wanted to portray the character as an evil genius, Jake Lacy just did not sell it for me. Perhaps as the secondary villain to a different mastermind, I might have enjoyed his character more.
I was hoping for an enjoyable comedy and in that aspect, Johnny English Strikes Again succeeds. While some modern day comedies rely on gross out humor or profane language for their laughs, Johnny English Strikes Again relies on slapstick humor, which makes the film one for the family. For younger viewers who are not familiar with the comedic genius of Rowan Atkinson, Johnny English Strikes Again is the perfect introduction.
Final Grade: B+