Has there really been a lot of clamor for a sequel to "Johnny English," the middling 2003 James Bond spoof starring Rowan Atkinson?
Probably not, but nonetheless, here's "Johnny English Reborn," like a wedding guest nobody can remember inviting. And while Atkinson, with his elastic eyebrows and not-quite-in-on-the-joke gaze, is always a pleasure, the movie feels unnecessary; a way to give some work to a handful of actors while waiting for a real movie to come along.
Johnny English (Atkinson), for those who missed the original, is an unusually clueless member of Her Majesty's Secret Service. He's vanished off the grid for a number of years, holing up at a Tibetan monastery in the hopes that the world will forget about how badly he screwed up his last assignment. But he's called back into service by a new boss, Pegasus (Gillian Anderson), who needs his help to thwart an assassination. Paired off with the very young and almost equally clueless Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), English is off to Hong Kong to keep the world safe.
And ... well, this is the kind of movie that you forget almost instantly after watching it; it's neither good enough nor bad enough to be memorable. Atkinson trots out his usual bag of tricks, and he's often amusing (watch the comedy he can wring from the up-and-down movement of an office chair). Anderson spends the movie looking horrified, as the former Agent Scully well might; various gadgets get deployed; and a lot of people get hit in the crotch.
Director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Hamish McColl don't seem to know how to end the film, so it goes on far longer than it should — like that uninvited guest who, despite sporadic charms, stays at the wedding too late.
JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN
With: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Dominic West, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Kaluuya, Richard Schiff.
Running time: 102 minutes.
Rated: PG for mild action violence, rude humor, some language and brief sensuality.