Rowan Atkinson in a scene from Johnny English Strikes Again.
Rowan Atkinson in a scene from Johnny English Strikes Again. GILES KEYTE

MOVIE REVIEW: It's impossible not to laugh

ROWAN Atkinson has been making people laugh with the arching of an eyebrow for nearly four decades.

Our modern-day Charlie Chaplin, Atkinson is the master of physical comedy and it seems he's only getting better with age.

Johnny English Strikes Again is his third outing as bumbling British spy Johnny English, who was inspired by Atkinson's character in the popular Barclaycard TV ads of the early '90s.

Johnny English comes out of retirement for one more mission.
Johnny English comes out of retirement for one more mission. Giles Keyte

When we catch up with English, he's happily passing on his spy skills to his students at the boarding school where he now works as a teacher.

But five days before the British PM (Emma Thompson) is to host her first G12 summit, MI7's security is breached and every agent in the field identified and exposed.

The only hope of finding the perpetrator is to bring an agent out of retirement, but with most of them either dead or close to it, the head of MI7 is left with only one choice - English.

 

The PM's not thrilled with her options.
The PM's not thrilled with her options. Giles Keyte

He readily accepts the mission, but soon learns a lot has changed since he was in the field. He calls upon his trusty sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) to track down the hacker using old-school methods to avoid digital detection.

The battle between analogue (English) and digital (pretty much everyone else) plays out throughout the course of the film and it should elicit laughs across the generations.

English soon crosses paths with the mysterious Ophelia (Olga Kurylenko), whose beauty distracts him from her multiple attempts to kill him.

Friend or foe? Bond girl Olga Kurylenko plays Ophelia.
Friend or foe? Bond girl Olga Kurylenko plays Ophelia. Giles Keyte

An extended scene on a nightclub dance floor, in which English's dance moves unwittingly save his life, is a particular highlight. As a friend described it to me, he's like John Travolta gone wrong. If you don't find it funny, then your funny bone must be numb.

Thompson is fabulous as the flustered PM, who can't quite believe the fate of the nation is in the hands of English.

You'll see some of the set-ups coming from a mile away, but that doesn't make this film any less fun. It's good, silly entertainment.

Opens Thursday.

JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Olga Kurylenko, Jake Lacy, Ben Miller.

Director: David Kerr

Verdict: 3 stars



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