Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)

It was unexpected and unnecessary, but there are now three Johnny English movies in a world that has never had a sequel to SerenityTrue LiesBeetlejuice and Titanic… oh wait, forget that last one.

Johnny English is based upon a character Rowan Atkinson played in some Barclaycard adverts (and in my opinion Nigel Small-Fawcet from Never Say Never Again.) There is no shortage of Bond spoofery out there and the idea of Atkinson doing it is pretty appealing. The first movie had some particularly inspired moments of comedy and action amid stupid, puerile, childish humour that appealed to some. The second had more inspired moments amid more stupid puerile, childish humour. This third outing, you might be pleased to hear, has some inspired moments amid stupid, puerile, childish humour!

If anything can be said for the series, they are amazingly in tune with each other. Between them, there is enough good material for one, blindingly funny James Bond spoof.

The major problem with English is that the character is so uneven, on the one hand he is Mr Bean, bungling his way through with luck and good fortune sorting things out. Yet he also had is moments of brilliance that sees him pull off some clever spy work whilst making fun of a cliche. If they could settle on him being either a buffoon or a professional then they film would like have a more successful gag hit rate.

There are also a number of inventive scenes throughout the series, the first film sees a great chase in which a James Bond-esq, gadget filled Aston Martin is involved in the high speed chase whilst on the back of a tow truck. The second film has Atkinson chasing a parkour runner through Hong Kong without breaking a sweat. This third film has Atkinson escaping from the villains in a dual control Learner driver car (with Mrs Doyle from Father Ted, no less!) In each of these action sequences they lampoon scenes from Bond and Jason Bourne with a clever and inventive approach and English is treated as a cunning spy who has a plan. Yet those scenes are almost immediately undone with second rate poo gags, prat falls and mix-ups.

English and his partner of sorts, Bough, have some pretty terrific dialogue and exchanges and I found myself laughing out loud at some of it. There is a particular highlight in which English invents an elaborate fake name, Bough goes for something simple and the exchange is comedic gold. However, 5 minutes later we are watching Atkinson, a talented physical performer, run through a painful dance ordeal that is simply not funny and boils down to Mr Bean dancing on a nightclub.

This third movie is the best of the three and if you like the first two movies then you will have no problems here. If you hated the first two, and I know there are a lot out there, then steer clear. I had a good time with it, much like the previous movies and whilst I understand those that argue this isn’t a good series of movies I appreciate wading through the poor jokes to get to the more rewarding moments as Rowan Atkinson is a great comedian.

I would imagine we will see a fourth Johnny English movie in the future as this seems to have done very good business.