Film Review: Johnny English Strikes Again (UK, 2018) with some funny and predictable hijinks

Johnny English Strikes Again is the third film in this popular franchise. This latest spy spoof follows its predecessors in once again offering audiences a funny romp with an unlikely secret agent. There are predictable scrapes and outrageous hijinks but one thing’s for certain, you are in for a fun ride.

David Kerr directs this film, while William Davies authored the screenplay. Davies also co-wrote the previous two Johnny English films. Rowan Atkinson reprises his role as the eponymous character, with English pulled out of retirement in order to help save the day.

The British government is feeling vulnerable after a spate of hacking attacks and data breaches, which saw the identities of Britain’s undercover agents exposed. English somehow escapes unscathed, leaving him the only man available to take on the top job.

As in the previous films, Atkinson once again carries the bulk of the comedic weight. There are hilarious scenes set in a French restaurant, and another involving an adventure in a virtual reality mask. At times, some of this slapstick humour would not be out of place on an episode of Mr. Bean. Some of the jokes feel signposted and rather predictable in nature. But, Atkinson is a pro and delivers these with such ease that they always seem to hit the mark.

English also finds himself reunited with his trusty sidekick from the first film, Bough (Ben Miller). This character is an excellent straight man, and Bough is often left mopping up after his friend’s mess. It seems that in 2018, English is struggling to keep up with the latest technology so it’s fortunate that the loyal Bough is often there to help.

Another person besieged by technology is the UK’s Prime Minister, played by the always wonderful, Emma Thompson. She’s horrified when the evil hackers cause chaos by routing the trains and planes to one station or airport. They also change every London traffic light signal to red. She is also left perplexed by MI-7’s reinstated recruit (AKA the hapless English) on account of the brouhaha he often leaves in his wake.

The femme fatale in this movie is actually a real-life Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko. Though her character is quite lightweight. You get the sense that she’s there to emphasise the fact that English is so unique, and that you’ll never meet another man quite like him. It’s true that he is a charming and funny anti-hero, but her character could have been fleshed out some more. Whilst, Jack Lacy (Girls) is a tad wooden in his portrayal of a young tech genius named Jason. The latter seems to have drawn inspiration from Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. The British PM lauds him as some kind of wunderkind. No surprises for guessing how this actually pans out.

Johnny English Strikes Again is an undemanding action-comedy flick. It won’t force you to overthink things, and it’s the kind of family-friendly film where you can all sit there together and laugh at the characters’ misadventures. Johnny English may be an inept spy, and the least likely person to save the world but by Jove, he does it!

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Johnny English Strikes Again is in cinemas Thursday 20th September.

Natalie Salvo

My writing portfolio can be found at: https://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com/