Johnny English (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, John Malkovich, Ben Miller, Douglas McFerran
Director: Peter Howitt

Rowan Atkinson stars as Johnny English, a ‘desk’ officer with British Intelligence more used to obscurity within the MI-7 ranks, although he fancies himself a dab hand at his business and an integral part of the ‘team’. Propelled into the limelight when he finds himself promoted into the ‘field’ after a series of mishaps that render him the sole agent left alive within the agency, he is put in charge of the case to solve the mystery of Her Majesty’s missing crown jewels, retrieve them and find the culprit(s).

Breezing into his prestigious, new job and enjoying the vastly increased status he feels he now has with all the aplomb and accoutrements of Bond – gun, gadgets, fast, hi-tech car and of course a beautiful girl in the guise of Special Agent Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia) – Agent Johnny English leaps head first or rather feet first into the fray. Remember… He knows no fear, he knows no danger… and unfortunately, he knows nothing, which makes the case a very challenging one! But his gut determination, acute intuition, and with a lot of help from his faithful co-agent Bough (Ben Miller) and double agent Campbell, they are soon on the trail of the elusive French industrialist, with royal connections, Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich).

Rowan Atkinson surpasses himself and gives an outstanding performance that won’t disappoint die-hard fans and earn him many more. I strongly advise against munching on popcorn though, you’ll either choke or shower the people in front – it’s just too hilarious! There are some great Bond-like stunts, peppered throughout with some side-splittingly comic incidents courtesy of the skilful Rowan Atkinson. One of my favourites was a scene towards the end of the movie with Johnny English having a shower at home taking off the former Agent Number One – before he died in the line of duty with just a little help from English – in the privacy (or not) of his bathroom singing along to an Abba song complete with yellow rubber ducks!

Female lead Natalie Imbruglia – yes the international music star and former NEIGHBOURS TV actress – in this her feature debut gives a convincingly strong yet very sexy portrayal equal to any Bond girl and knows just how to ‘handle’ agents like Johnny English. Lucky for him then, when they join forces and work as a team.

With faultless performances from the ensemble cast, this family comedy will have a broad age appeal. The director Peter Howitt (SLIDING DOORS) keeps the film well paced throughout and pulls off another resounding success or dare I say it – masterpiece!

6 out of 6 stars