Spare a thought for Mr Atkinson's co-stars here. West did five seasons of that TV masterpiece The Wire, Anderson was in cult fave The X-Files while Schiff had seven classy years residing in The West Wing. Oh, and Gorman was in Torchwood. Now they're appearing in a kids' film. Tragic? No, not really. They all enter into the spirit of this innocuous caper with likeable aplomb. Who cares that it's so infantile? It's been made for children and they are the target audience, not hardened critics. The young 'uns will lap it up.
An ageing Atkinson indulges in painful pratfalls and silly schtick as the clumsy secret agent intent on foiling the evildoers who are determined to assassinate the Chinese premier. He has to locate three keys that, oh, forgive me, but I forget why they're so important. The plot takes secondary place to his stumbling and bumbling idiocies anyway. He consistently gets everyrthing wrong so thank goodness he has a naive sidekick (Kaluuya) to put him right while the gorgeous Pike takes a shine to him.
It all looks suitably glossy in its aping of the Bond movies (and it steals a gag from Austin Powers for good measure). If it can keep your children entertained for over 90 minutes then you should be tolerant towards this mildly diverting romp. It's not disagreeable.
SECOND OPINION | Stuart O'Connor ★★★ Johnny English Reborn is more fun than a kick in the balls. And during the 100+ minute runtime of the film, a lot of balls get kicked – several of them belonging to Atkinson. This sequel is a far, far better movie than the original, but it's still very much a kids' film. Every time a character received a swift boot to the goolies, every child (and a few of the more immature adults) in the audience was in hysterics. It's a shame that Atkinson, who has always been one of the world's best verbal comedians (his pronunciation of the name Bob in the Blackadder episode Bells can still reduce me to a dribbling mess) has, in his later career, relied mainly on slapstick to get a laugh. He's better than that. But if you're a kid, or a kid at heart, Johnny English Reborn is sure to amuse.