I've never understood why there is so much hatred for the Johnny English franchise. It may not as slick as Austin Powers, but it's a competent Bond spoof on very little budget, and it's terribly British.
We last saw Johnny English knighted after saving Britain from a plot by the dastardly French. In the second instalment, he has been disgraced and stripped of his knighthood after a fatal balls-up in Mozambique. He has spent the subsequent five years in a Tibetan monastery forgetting his past, studying martial arts and learning to withstand massive kicks to the testicles. Summoned home to negotiate with a double agent who will speak to no one else, he finds himself in the midst of a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier, complete with news that there's a mole in MI7 - or is it a vole?
I was sorry not to see the faithful Butt Monkey Bough, but the replacement sidekick, Tucker, is lovably keen. There's also Dominic West as the charming and perfect Agent 1, Tim McInnerny as the Q character, 'Patch' Quatermain - or what's left of him after testing various unsuccessful gadgets - and Gillian Anderson as Pegasus, frosty head of MI7 and owner of a cat named Philby.
My favourite moments:
- The sign in MI7's reception: 'British Intelligence from Toshiba - Spying for You'.
- English and Tucker rush a shot KGB agent to hospital by helicopter. Air Traffic Control has refused to give them directions so they follow an A road at a height of a couple of feet, obeying the traffic laws at a roundabout.
- The progress of English's Rolls Royce across Switzerland is charted by a series of speed camera flashes.
- The long-awaited point at which English reveals his resistance to groinal attack.
- The bit after the credits. Worth the wait.
I could complain about male movie stars getting to have onscreen relationships with women young enough to be their daughters (and I was rather rooting for Gillian Anderson as the love interest), but that would be hypocritical since I, personally, would have a hard time turning Rowan Atkinson down.