Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Johnny English Reborn Review

I guess the decision to reboot James Bond sparked something in Rowan Atkinson to revive his satirical character, Johnny English.  When the original came out, it was marketed as a James Bond spoof and, while a fun movie, came off as more of a goofy 90s comedy with unbelievable characters and wacky situations (my review is here).  Reborn is much more similar to the Bond movies through its use of locations, action sequences, gadgetry (although that was in the original too), hot women and music.  In fact, the two Johnny English films mirror the Bond movies in the fact that they go from outlandish villains and plots to a much more realistic situation.  Remember Moonraker?  Jaws?  Spectre?  Those were a lot like John Malkovich's nutty plot to turn England into a penal colony by claiming the throne.  In Reborn, you get a much more realistic and subdued plot of simple assassination, much like the villains and plots have come closer to earth in the Bond movies.

Bringing that back to reality really allows the film makers to focus on what we all want to see: Rowan Atkinson being a boob.  And he does it very well in this film.  Unlike Mr Bean, Johnny English is not a loser or an idiot.  He's actually quite good at what he does while being a bit odd and insecure in his abilities.  The character was a bit raw in the first one but Atkinson does a terrific job with him in Reborn.  And, unlike Mr Bean, Johnny English works on the big screen.  Because it's an English movie, a lot of the humour is subdued and subtle which won't please many on this side of the Atlantic.  We've gotten so used to the Will Ferrell style of comedy that everything has to be loud and slap you in the face.  Reborn does none of this.  Both the physical and verbal comedy are subtle and smart which makes it funnier to me.

There was one significant drawback.  As a James Bond spoof, they have to put in action sequences.  In doing this, they skimped a bit on the budget.  A lot of the action is poorly green screened and takes away from the visual quality of the film; especially in the exotic locations.  And many of the sequences went on a little long and weren't as fast paced as they could have been.  They did, however, do a decent job in mimicking and satirizing the stereotypical Bond action with the locations and shooting angles.

I say See It.  I think it is better than the first.  But keep in mind that I'm the kind of guy who likes the dry, subtle British humour.  If you don't like that, give it a pass.

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