“Johnny English Strikes Again” stars Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Adam James, and Emma Thompson. Released in the United Kingdom on October 5, 2018 and in the United States on October 26, 2018, the film has Johnny English coming out of retirement to search for a mastermind hacker.
The film is directed by David Kerr, who is known for his work on British comedy-drama shows like “Fresh Meat”, “Beautiful People”, and “Whites”. It is the third installment in the “Johnny English” film series. We may not be able to see another James Bond film until at least a couple of years, but we still have another popular spy-related franchise to look forward to. OK, it’s not entirely as popular as James Bond, but it has its own share of success outside the United States. The franchise I’m talking about was Johnny English, played by none other than British comedian Rowan Atkinson. Classified as a parody/satire of James Bond and the spy genre, “Johnny English” doesn’t exactly hit a lot of the critics’ funny bones, but the films have enough ridiculous moments to provide some decent entertainment for its intended audience. I was one of the people who actually watched (and enjoyed) the “Johnny English” films because of Atkinson’s likable performance as the title character and their amusing sense of humor. When I found out that they’re releasing the third film in the franchise this year (seven years after the release of “Johnny English Reborn”), I became quite concerned about whether or not the brand has already past its prime. However, I’m always in a mood for some goofy laughs, so I didn’t care that much about it. The film is already an international hit in terms of box office, but will it attract the American audience as well? It’s highly doubtful, but let’s just check it out anyway.
If you’ve seen the last two “Johnny English” installments, you would know exactly what you’re going into in “Strikes Again”, which is a series of physical humor and pratfalls. You know, stuff that you would normally see on “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. This type of comedy is usually a hit-and-miss for certain audiences, especially in this day and age. There were some films that tickled their funny bones and there were some who made them want to drown themselves in the lake. This film falls somewhere down the middle. Relying on the title character’s idiotic antics rather than its substance, the second sequel to “Johnny English” didn’t provide anything special for both newcomers and people who prefer smart comedies. However, like its predecessors, the humor in this film had a sense of amusement that kept me giggling all the way through. Most comedy sequels fell extremely flat when it comes to the jokes, causing audiences to question their existence. Even though this film may or may not be an exception (depending on your sense of humor), it was able to maintain the gleefully stupid qualities that made the spy comedy franchise a success, for better or for worse. One of those qualities is Rowen Atkinson himself as the title character. I’ve been a respectable fan of the actor ever since I saw him in “Mr. Bean”, and the film shows that he never lost his comedic touch. Sure, it’s not a perfect film that would get notified by the Academy, but for something that has “Johnny English” in its name, it hardly needs to be. The plot was very simplistic and dumb and the character development was non-existent, but if its main goal was to make its audience laugh and forget about their real-life problems, it did its job quite well.
Overall, “Johnny English Strikes Again” may not have the perfect reason to strike again, but for those who enjoyed the first two installments, it’s like being reunited with an old friend. A bumbling, accident-prone old friend. Despite Atkinson’s likable portrayal and its amusing, yet idiotic, physical humor, the film fails its mission to attract a wider audience, mostly due to its simplistic plot and its lack of character development. It will heavily depend on your sense of humor. If you like to laugh at physical humor, this film has plenty to enjoy. If not, then you’re better off waiting for the next James Bond movie.