“Johnny English Strikes Again” is a sequel in the “Johnny English” series, with Rowan Atkinson as an MI7 spy. He is the most bumbling and ill-prepared secret agent ever. He does little that is right, but he always thinks he is top of the line. English is similar to the inept Inspector Clouseau from the ‘Pink Panther’ movies. Peter Sellers was perfect for those movies, and Rowan Atkinson is pretty much the arrow in the bullseye for “Johnny English”. It’s just that the humor in the 60’s was fine for its time. But today, audiences do expect a little bit other than pratfalls and big-eared goofy grins.
Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is brought back into MI7 service after a technical data hack on the bureau. All current spies have been exposed and the Prime Minister (Emma Thompson) is upset. The country is undergoing several mysterious data hacks, and things are not good for the British Empire. The Prime Minister thinks that perhaps a young tech-savvy billionaire named Jason Volta (Jake Lacy) can get the country running smoothly again. English is the only retired field agent who can be called upon to investigate. He also gets an assist with his old MI7 friend named Angus Bough (Ben Miller). For some reason, English pronounces Bough as ‘Boof’. These two get sent to check out the computer hacks, first in France.
Johhny and ‘Boof’ find out that a luxury sailing yacht named the “Dot Calm” had something to do with the British data hack. They also meet up with a beautiful woman named Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko) on the yacht. She knows that boat belongs to billionaire Jason Volta, and she is looking into why he wants to make a business deal with the Prime Minister. When Johnny and Boof pretend to be waiters at a fancy French resort, there is a total disaster in the making. Ophelia heads to England to track Volta, so Johnny and Boof also go back home.
Johnny English has a feeling that Volta might be up to something very bad. But the Prime Minister is all smiles about Volta, and she will not disavow him. Johnny and Boof have a ‘Virtual Reality’ mock-up of Volta’s English country estate. Johnny uses this VR device to learn how to maneuver Volta’s estate to find evidence of his wrong-doing. However, Johnny does everything wrong (as usual) and thinks he is in the VR lab when he is actually out in the London bookstores and coffee shops – attacking people who are Volta’s “Heanchmen”. He and Boof go to estate for real, and they do find evidence that Volta is evil. They work with Ophelia to record Volta’s evil plans, but of course, Johnny messes that up when he tries to play it for the Prime Minister.
Johnny and Boof are fired and need to stay away from the big conference in Scotland, where the Prime Minister and Jason Volta will sign a big agreement. All the other European countries will also join in, because Volta promises to protect all their data. They of course do not know that Volta has been behind all of the data hacks and is leading up to taking over the various countries. If Johnny and Boof only were able to be there and effectively protect England and all of Europe. If only they could work with Ophelia, who is an undercover Russian agent, to stop Volta from being an evil jerk. If only– but wait — of course Johnny English will blunder into a situation and somehow make the ‘not the worst thing’ happen. If only — by accident…
“Johnny English Strikes Again” shows that Rowan Atkinson does not strike out, but he also does not hit any home runs. Call this one a broken-bat single. Atkinson is terrific at what he does, which is to play the unknowing fool. The rest of the cast enjoys slumming around with him, especially Emma Thompson. The story is a series of set pieces, all tied together with Atkinson basic goofy character. There is some humor to be found, but it does not sustain the entire run time. But there is nothing objectionable, so Grandmums can watch it with their wee laddie grandsons.