Johnny English Strikes Again (Parent And Baby Screening) (PG)

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Comedy (2018)
89mins UK/Fr/US

Starring: Emma Thompson, Olga Kurylenko, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller
Director: David Kerr
Writer(s): William Davies
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

A devastating cyber attack exposes the names and locations of active MI7 agents, forcing agency boss Pegasus to reinstate retired operatives. Johnny English and former sidekick Bough answer the call to arms and begin their haphazard investigation into the source of the skulduggery. In the process, English meets a beautiful yet deadly Russian spy called Ophelia, who has been ordered to kill her British rival. Thankfully, she doesn't fulfil her mission.

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LondonNet Film Review
Johnny English Strikes Again (PG)

Seven years after Rowan Atkinson's MI7 agent blundered through the lacklustre sequel Johnny English Reborn, the rubber-faced leading man dusts off his licence to kill for a globetrotting third mission under the direction of David Kerr. Alas, Johnny English Strikes Again is a load of Thunderballs. Everything about the latest caper is fusty and outdated including a flimsy script penned by William Davies, which has the title character "go analogue" to defeat the hi-tech menace of cyberterrorists. Consequently, English rejects a hybrid car in favour of a noisy, petrol-guzzling red Aston Martin Vantage, he receives vital intelligence via fax and listens to a cassette mixtape on his car stereo, blaring out Wham's I'm Your Man and Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood as the dull, plodding spy game heads to the sun-kissed Cote d'Azur...

Johnny English Strikes Again. Copyright: Focus Features LLC/Universal Pictures. Caption: Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English in Johnny English Strikes Again, directed by Oliver Parker. Photo: Giles Keyte. All Rights Reserved.Atkinson recycles clowning set-pieces from his Mr Bean heyday with a gusto that is lacking from the film around him. He almost makes mirth from a protracted sequence on a hotel dance floor but a virtual reality training segment outstays its welcome well before a grandmother in a wheelchair is forcibly pushed into oncoming traffic. Every pratfall is telegraphed in advance and a final showdown with the film's glaringly obvious villain is a deflating anticlimax.

A devastating cyberattack compromises the identities and locations of serving MI7 operatives. The British prime minister (Emma Thompson), who will be hosting a G12 summit in a matter of days and cannot afford a humiliating security breach, demands a swift response from MI7 boss Pegasus (Adam James). "We don't have any agents left. They've all been outed!" she is informed. "So bring back an old one!" barks the PM. Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), who is teaching geography at a preparatory school in Grantham, answers the call alongside retired Agents Six, Seven and Nine (Edward Fox, Charles Dance, Michael Gambon). Following an unfortunate incident with a detonating pen, English is the last man standing and he ventures into the field with sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) and a duffel bag full of old school gadgets courtesy of P (Matthew Beard). English and Bough track the cyberattack to a yacht, the Dot Calm, where they cross paths with beautiful Russian spy Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko). Meanwhile, the prime minister woos Californian dotcom billionaire Jason Volta (Jake Lacy) in the hope he can work alongside British security services to usher in a brave new digital age.

Johnny English Strikes Again is a dispiriting tour of well-worn spy thriller tropes, which have already been parodied to the point of tedium. Miller is a likeable straight man to Atkinson's larger-than-life buffoonery while Thompson hyperventilates as a witless, self-serving political animal, who expects others to put in the hard graft so she can take the credit. A tiny sliver of plausibility.

- Jo Planter

Johnny English Strikes Again. Copyright: Focus Features LLC/Universal Pictures. Caption: Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English in Johnny English Strikes Again, directed by Oliver Parker. Photo: Giles Keyte. All Rights Reserved.

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