Rowan Atkinson (Four Weddings and a Funeral) is known for his British, slapstick characters like Mr. Bean, and probably one of his most popular behind Bean is Johnny English. Johnny first graced the big screen in Johnny English back in 2003 and he returned again in 2011's Johnny English Reborn. Now, after a seven-year hiatus, he resurfaces once again in October's release Johnny English Strikes Again. Trying once again to bring the laughs, Atkinson finds himself in familiar territory as he slips into this persona like a well-worn and comfortable suit.
When we meet up with English once again he has "retired" from the spy game and is teaching at a private school in the English countryside. However, it is obvious he longs for " the good old days" as he peppers his classroom lessons with lessons on tactical espionage. He seems content and truly seems to like his students but finds himself pulled back in when the Prime Minister (Emma Thompson; Love Actually) needs his help. It seems someone has hacked the National Security database and has exposed all of the undercover agents making them vulnerable. The Prime minister must call in those agents no longer in service and when English accidentally kills the other three agents it is left up to him to find the person responsible for the breach and stop them.
Along with his trusty sidekick, Bough (Ben Miller; Paddington 2, English goes "old school" to find the perpetrator who keeps launching a series of cyber attacks on the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is trying to stop the attacks by forming an alliance with an American Businessman, Jason (Jake Lacy; Rampage), who specializes in computer security. As the G-12 Summit approaches, time is running out for English to solve the puzzle and save the day.
Let's call a spade a spade here. Johnny English is what I refer to as "stupid" humor. There is an element of slapstick and certainly a British sensibility underlying the script but it mostly relies on the audiences' need to laugh at simply anything and everything. I liken it to the Austin Powers films though not as well done as those. Atkinson is known for this type of persona and he fits the part well though. His facial expressions are fantastic and his ability to still do the physical comedy is a testament to the man himself.
The supporting cast is all great. Miller is the straight man to Atkinson but his lines and mannerisms are often the funnier parts of the movie. Thompson is a natural playing the most powerful person in the country but I can't help but wonder what made her decide to take the part in the first place. I see her as a dramatic, award-winning actress rather than the brunt of Atkinson's jokes but she pulls off the role with her own unique flair regardless. Lacy once again plays the bad guy as he did in Rampage though this time much more intelligently. He is so rude and condescending that you instantly hate him which is really the point.
Besides a few funny moments, the movie offers a few bright notes. The scenery is beautiful (when it is real) and the scenes with Atkinson and English's students are heartwarming and fun. No, Johnny English Strikes Again won't win any awards (except maybe a Razzie) but it will resonate with fans of the character and Atkinson's shtick. So if you are looking for a nonsensical, mind-numbing hour and a half then feel free to check this film out.