A cheeky, brilliant spy-satire led by infectious funnyman Rowan Atkinson who manages near-constant anti-Bond laughs in his mismatched reality vs. fantasy, JE is one of the funniest comedies this year – despite a contrived villain plot. 7.6/10.
Plot Synopsis: Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich), a villain intent on stealing Britain’s Crown Jewels, has murdered the country’s top undercover agents, and mediocre spy Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is ordered to prevent further mayhem. But even with help from quick-thinking sidekick Bough (Ben Miller), the goofy agent lands himself in one precarious situation after another. Only when he meets up with Interpol crime-fighter Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia) is Johnny able to chip away at Pascal’s defenses.
*Possible Spoilers Ahead*
Pros: Brilliant, cheeky spy-satire from its opening French manor infiltration in the dead of night with things like vicious attack dogs being distracted by chew toys and women schmoozing gone wrong /// Rowan Atkinson – biggest achievement by far and probably of his career. He is so damn funny, it’s difficult to ascertain – the sly and swaggerful way he delivers ridiculous lines and bumbles around like a dolting idiot yet thinks he’s 007 and the coolest secret agent incarnate is an irreplacable joy that managed to slap a goofy grin on my face – and keep there for almost the entire film: a major accomplishment in comparatively-disappointing and stock/superficial modern comedies. There are too many fantastic gags to count, from the submarine hatch and funeral guard fiascos to apartment rubber ducky training dreams to getting lost on his first day on the job to failed coat racket throw to the secretary pen to museum self-act fight (incredibly impressive acting by Rowan – too funny) to funeral and hospital mix-ups to flirtation gone wrong, etc. /// other performances are no slouches either – especially John Malkovich’s villain role and Atkinson’s gorgeous costar Imbruglia (and assistant Bough) /// action scenes exhilarating enough too – especially the Aston Martin spoof car chase /// soundtrack just as good as any spy movie as well – surprisingly better and more authentic than could be expected in a satire
Cons: The villain plot is contrived and a bit nonsensical/over-fantastical – wasting Malkovich in a scheme that I’m not even sure the screenwriters themselves understood or thought out properly. The Queen abdicating her entire lineage to the royal throne of England out of a threat.. to her dog? /// Sauvage’s cartoonish French accent gets REALLY annoying/overbelabored fast /// while the film easily has 10x more hits than misses in gags, ~all its misses come in the back-half – devolving into juvenile humor it looks like the writers got lazy or stopped trying in – the whole poo episode and mooning bishops, yikes. Still, Rowan saves
Official CLC Score: 7.6/10
A mega-budget infusion, lots of shiny new technological bells-and-whistles, and a more advanced plot with a better Kaluuya-cast assistant equate that JE: Reborn should be a better spy-satire than its predecessor on-paper – but it fails to match the original’s energy, atmosphere, and Atkinson charm. 5/10.
1 – Cheeky spy-satire led by infectious funnyman Rowan Atkinson. 7.5/10. / Reborn – Clichéd plot but fun gags. 5/10. / SA – Inane, tired, nonsensical, unfunny._1/10.