Eight and a half years after the 2003 original, bumbling British spy Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) has spent five years training in offensive and defensive combat in a remote part of Tibet, after botching up a job in Africa. However, he is soon called back to MI7 to stop the assassination of the Chinese Premier (Lobo Chan), encountering a secret organisation with people in MI7, CIA and KGB.
Just as witty as the original, the film is a fast-paced piece of farce throughout, and unlike its predecessor doesn't at any stage resort to semi-graphic and overly gross toilet humour, which one grows tired of in this wave of contemporary comedies, and is therefore fairly refreshing. The screenplay also does a superior job of spoofing spy films than the original by including more gadgets that result in quite over the top, slightly goofy and altogether amusing consequences, as well as Johnny first encountering the KGB Agent (Mark Ivanir) on a golf course in a farcical parody of a memorable scene from Bond film Goldfinger (1964). The screenplay does, however, resort to a running gag about a killer cleaner (Pik-Sen Lim), which is initially amusing, but eventually becomes predictable, with running gags being the cliche so many comedies tick the box for unnecessarilly, but aside from this it is a decent screenplay, which achieves what it sets out to - spoof spy films in a piece of farce.
The actors are a generally mixed bag, but a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that most of the screenplay focuses on the only character from the original - Johnny, while most other characters are substantially sidelined. Atkinson really steals the show as Johnny with strong comic timing and delivery, as well as lots of energy, really giving it his all as he has always done. The majority of supporting characters, however, are very one-sided and get little development throughout the film, most especially Gillian Anderson as the new Pegasus, who despite being sophisticated in the role, is playing a character who is too much stiff British upper lip stereotype, and never breaks away from this. In this film Johnny's right-hand man is Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), and this no-nonsense guy is a nice contrast to the borderline servant that was Ben Miller's Bough in the original, but this character does move fairly slowly through the film, although Kaluuya does a reasonable amount with such an underdeveloped character. However underdeveloped the characters are though, the cast portray the stereotypical British stiff upper lip and sophistication very well.
Flawed the film may be, but it is entertaining, and quite an impressive result for what was made with a lowish budget. Many characters are underdeveloped, but stereotypical British sophistication remains, and at the end of the day this is Atkinson's show throughout, thanks to his love and enthusiasm displayed in his comedy from start to finish.
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Daniel Kaluuya, Richard Schiff, Tim McInnerny, Stephen Campbell Moore, Pik-Sen Lim, Togo Igawa, Wale Ojo, Chris Jarman, Mark Ivanir, Lobo Chan, Benedict Wong, Andrew Woodall, Williams Belle.