Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Film - Re­view: Jo­ce­lyn Noveck AP Na­tional Writer

There’s noth­ing re­ally new or fresh or bold in “Johnny English Strikes Again,” the third in­stall­ment of Rowan Atkin­son’s bum­bling-spy saga/James Bond spoof. And for some of us, maybe that’s not such a ter­ri­ble thing. Some­times you don’t want the hip new cock­tail. Some­times you just want the same beer at the same tem­per­a­ture at the same time in the same comfy chair. (Es­pe­cially these days, per­haps, but we di­gress.) So when Atkin­son’s Johnny, on the run in a Scot­tish cas­tle, winds up in a room of dec­o­ra­tive suits of ar­mor, you start chuck­ling pre­emp­tively. Be­cause of course you know he’s go­ing to hide in one of those suits, and of course you know he’s go­ing to have a mas­sively dif­fi­cult time stay­ing up­right, and, well ... it’ll be funny. Not in­no­va­tive or thought-pro­vok­ing, and cer­tainly not snarky or bit­ing. Just funny. If that’s not enough, we also have Emma Thomp­son as the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter. Thomp­son as any­thing at all would be a plus, but watch­ing her chan­nel her in­ner Mag­gie Thatcher — and mix in a lit­tle Theresa May — may have you im­me­di­ately be­moan­ing the fact she only got to play a prime

min­is­ter’s SIS­TER in “Love Ac­tu­ally.” What a waste! In any case, we be­gin a week be­fore the PM is to host a cru­cial G12 sum­mit in Scot­land. Things are not go­ing well. A ma­jor se­cu­rity breach at MI17 ex­poses the iden­tity of ev­ery Bri­tish se­cret agent. To re­place them, they call in ag­ing former agents. En­ter Johnny, who’s been spend­ing his days teach­ing schoolkids the es­sen­tials of Bon­dian spy­craft (se­duc­tion via mar­tini, for ex­am­ple). He’s a fish out of wa­ter. In a high-tech world, he’s lower than low-tech; he’s no-tech. He re­jects even a smart­phone. All he wants is a gun, and a dusty old As­ton Martin to drive. He’s joined in this ven­ture by his erst­while part­ner from the first movie in 2003, loyal side­kick Bough (a pleas­ant Ben Miller.) But, you ask, who’s the vil­lain? Well, that would be tech­nol­ogy it­self, in the form of a (truly an­noy­ing) Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aire smar­ty­pants — you know the type — named Ja­son Volta ( Jake Lacy, in a one-di­men­sional role). Ja­son has com­pletely charmed the tech-chal­lenged prime min­is­ter, who is un­aware of his sin­is­ter hid­den goals. But he can’t track an en­emy who has no dig­i­tal foot­print. At least that’s Johnny’s the­ory. He’s un­trace­able, but he also can’t make a phone call. His low- tech strat­egy ex­tends to ev­ery­thing: He has a mix­tape on a cas­sette! His spy gad­get works with a floppy disc! It’s un­clear if kids in the au­di­ence will know what these things are. But they likely will crack up when Johnny tests out a vir­tual re­al­ity head­set and ends up wan­der­ing into streets and stores and at­tack­ing peo­ple ran­domly. They’ll also laugh, as will most any­one, when Johnny takes an en­ergy pill in­stead of a sleep­ing pill and hits the dance floor for an en­tire night, pos­ing and preen­ing as only Atkin­son, still ag­ile at 63, can. Sure, the scene is tele­graphed about an hour ahead of time. But that doesn’t mean it’s not en­ter­tain­ing. At these mo­ments, di­rec­tor David Kerr does the log­i­cal thing, which is to just get out of the way and let Atkin­son per­form. The fi­nale comes at that Scot­tish cas­tle at Loch Ness, where smarmy Ja­son makes his in­ten­tions known — they’re rather con­fus­ing, ac­tu­ally, but they def­i­nitely in­volve the in­ter­net — and it’s up to no-tech Johnny to save the day. You may for­get the barely ser­vice­able plot on the way out of the theater. But you’ll likely re­mem­ber when Atkin­son gets a cock­tail um­brella stuck in his nose, while try­ing to woo gor­geous — and dra­mat­i­cally named — Ophe­lia (Olga Kurylenko), an en­emy agent. Or when he’s try­ing to defy grav­ity in that darned suit of ar­mor. It’s not com­pli­cated. But there are worse things in life than 88 min­utes of un­com­pli­cated chuck­ling.

Olga Kurylenko and Rowan Atkin­son in a scene from “Johnny English Strikes Again.”

In a high-tech world, Johnny English is lower than lowtech; he’s no-tech.

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