British actor Rowan Atkinson’s best known roles, at least for North American audiences, may be those of the bumbling, unspeaking Mr. Bean from the TV series and subsequent movies, as well as the equally bungling intelligence officer Johnny English.
In the super spy’s second screen adventure, the anything-but-suave agent has been dismissed by the department after blundering a responsibility that resulted in the death of the newly elected Mozambican president. High in the hills of Tibet, he now trains under the stern eye of martial arts master Ting Wang (Togo Igawa) where he is subjected to hot coals, strict drills and unorthodox assaults on his male anatomy. But all the pain pays off when the new head of Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Gillian Anderson), summons him to London for a top-secret mission.
During his self-imposed exile the spy racket has changed, including the front sign outside the office. Like sports arenas and other facilities, a corporate sponsor has pasted its name on the outside placard—in this case, the electronics company Toshiba (one of many product placements in the film). The equipment and weaponry has also improved. And the department now has a behavioral psychologist (Rosamund Pike) on staff to monitor the actions of the operatives in the field. However when it comes to catching the three men behind a secret plot to kill the Chinese premier, it still takes some good old-fashioned sleuthing. Luckily Johnny’s new assistant Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya) is just the man to help the older agent get that done.
Although the characters from the first movie have been replaced, the script plays out with all the expected comedic interjections by Atkinson. Those who enjoy the physical slapstick humor perfected by this actor likely won’t be disappointed—especially if they stay around to watch a clip at the end of the film’s credits. He’s awkward, over-confident and resistant to learning from his past mistakes, such as when his character repeatedly confuses several old women for a notorious assassin (Pik Sen Lim). Yet there is something remarkably personable about him.
While the film has less sexual content and innuendo than the first spy plot, there are still several shootings and an overabundance of groin attacks. And though the pacing of the film doesn’t always maintain a good clip, the tongue-in-cheek jabs at this genre work in the clumsy hands of this eager-to-prove-himself secret agent.
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Violence: Characters engage in martial arts drills that include physical contact. Many are repeatedly kicked in the groin and subjected to other painful attacks on the male anatomy. A man walks across hot coals. Characters, including elderly women, are slapped, hit with objects, shot with darts and attacked. Numerous others are shot and killed. Blood is seen on the floor after a person is shot. A knife is held to a man’s throat. Poison is used. An explosion kills a character.
Sexual Content: A woman kisses an injured man. Another seduces a man to join her in a hot tub by taking off her dress and revealing her bikini. Low cut clothing and cleavage are shown on several occasions. Men are seen urinating in the bathroom.
Language: The script contains a couple of mild profanities and a veiled crude anatomical term.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink alcohol several times in social settings. A man attempts to poison another person by putting a drug in a drink.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
What does Johnny English learn about age and wisdom while in the monastery? How does he apply that new knowledge on the job? What experience can older people bring to situations in life? What does Tucker offer the team?
Why is the spy genre so popular? What elements of the film are most intriguing to you - the car, the weapons, the espionage? In what ways does this film make fun of the more serious secret agent movies?
In addition to the Toshiba sign and the Apple iPad, what other product placements did you find in this film?
Watching Johnny English train in martial arts is reminiscent of the black and white bear in Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2. This is a sequel to the movie Johnny English. Rowan Atkinson is best known for his character Mr. Bean. Other spy spoofs include The Pink Panther and Get Smart.
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: Johnny English Reborn
Release Date: 28 February 2012
Johnny English Reborn releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Digital Copy) with the following bonus extras:
- Feature commentary with director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Hamish McColl
- Deleted/extended scenes with introductions by Oliver Parker
- The Wheelchair Chase
- Gag reel
- The English Files: The Making Of Johnny English Reborn
- Working With Rowan
- English In Hong Kong
- Pocket Blu and uHear