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Bland, Johnny Bland

Unfunny spy sequel fails to shake or stir

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The 2003 spy spoof Johnny English, starring Mr. Bean's Rowan Atkinson as a woefully inept but occasionally resourceful intelligence agent, was not a mad box-office success, so the need for a sequel is kind of baffling.

In Johnny English Reborn, the spy is recalled to London to prevent the assassination of the Chinese premier by a cabal of turncoat spies. Paired with a smart black rookie he loftily underestimates (“It’ll be good to have someone to carry the bags”) and armed with an array of ridiculous gadgets, English bumbles his way into cracking the case.

Unlike American-made James Bond parodies like the Austin Powers series, Reborn's comedy is subtle, self-effacing, and never over-the-top, even when English is beating up elderly women he mistakes for a Chinese assassin who masquerades as a maid, cook, and caddy. --Pamela Zoslov

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