Film Review: JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN (UK 2018)

Johnny English Strikes Again Poster
Trailer

After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all of the active undercover agents in Britain, Johnny English is forced to come out of retirement to find the mastermind hacker.

Director:

David Kerr

Writer:

William Davies (screenplay by)

The third instalment after JOHNNY ENGLISH and JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN, JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN sees one again bumbling secret agent (Mr. Bean who can speak) Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) saving the world, in this case from internet hacking by super villain Jason Volta (Jake Lacy).

When the film opens, English is a retired M17 agent now teaching geography at some boarding school.  When M17 is on the receiving end of a massive cyber attack from an unknown entity, that exposes the identities of all its current field agents, the Prime Minister (Emma Thompson looking more puzzled than anything else probably wondering what she is doing in this dud) instructs M17 to reinstate older, inactive agents like Johnny English to be employed to solve the case.  As a result of accidentally killing off three other older retired agents (cameos by Edward Fox, Michael Gambon and Charles Dance), he is given the job, which he undertakes with the help of his faithful and unfunny assistant, Angus Bough (Ben Miller).

British TV series expanded into feature films often take their characters on holidays (KEVIN AND PERRY GO LARGE, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, ON THE BUSES etc. etc) to some foreign country.  This sequel takes the agents to the south of France for their investigation.  Nothing much in terms of comedy improves.

The oddest thing about the film is that the script by William Davies contains no shortage of elaborate comedic set-pieces.  These includes among others these two:

English and Bough dressed up as French waiters devising ways to get close to a suspect dining   in a French posh restaurant with his girlfriend.  This involves a fire resulting from flambé prawns in order to nab a cellphone while eventually setting the entire restaurant ablaze

a Virtual Reality simulation with English taking down a number of innocent strangers in public while imagining he is fighting Volta’s men in his mansion home.  This involves hitting a bakery eatery employee with two baguettes, toppling a tour guide on a double decker bus and pushing an old lady in a wheelchair out of a store.

Yet none of these generate any laughs – I did look around the theatre many times to see if anyone even remotely smiled

A smart idea of self parodying involves a glamorous Russian agent Ophelia Bulletova, played by former 007 James Bong girl, Olga Kurylenko who investigates Volta.  Any segment involving her and English also fail to incite any humour.

On the positive side, the film contains no toilet or barf jokes, though there is a harmless (and again unfunny one) involving the agent caught with his trousers down.

The film has so far grossed, at the time of writing almost $100 million while garnishing generally unfavourable reviews by critics.  The first two made around $160 million each which explains this third outing from Universal Pictures.  At best, what can be said is that younger kids might find this whole espionage exercise entertaining.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qv6p6pTz5I

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Full Review: VICTORIA AND ABDUL (UK 2017) ***

Victoria and Abdul Poster
Trailer

Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Lee Hall (screenplay), Shrabani Basu (based on the book by)

Stars:

Judi DenchOlivia WilliamsMichael Gambon

Director Stephen Frears has made great controversial films like SAMMY AND ROSIE GET LAID, THE SNAPPER and MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE.  He has also made films about royalty before, like THE QUEEN and also sentimental slush like PHILOMENA, with Judi Dench.  VICTORIA AND ABDUL a film about Queen Victoria (Oscar Winner Judi Dench) and her Indian servant Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) contains a cocktail of all the elements of the films mentioned above.  The result, as expected as a mediocre Jack of all Trades Master of None film, which shines but only occasionally.

 

The film chronicles with humour and insight the friendship between Queen Victoria and a decades-younger Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.  Karim has been summoned because of his height to present in England all the way from Agar, India the colonized homeland, a present.   The present is satirically, a ceremonial coin on behalf of British India to the Queen as a part of her Golden Jubilee in 1887,  Abdul with another travel for the intimidating task. 

 

Abdul has done what is forbidden during the ceremony.  He makes eye contact with the Queen who finds him handsome.  In no time he is cooking her curries, talking to her about his culture, and being elevated to the post of official clerk, or Munshi, becoming an indispensable part of the household — and state.

 

This is where trouble boils.  The Queen’s son, Bertie and the household take offence that this ‘coloured’ lowly servant is treated royally.  The ultimatum comes when the Queen decides to knight Abdul in order to have her household respect him.  The opposite occur.  The household threaten to resign if Karim is knighted.  This is where the Queen uses her brain and oratory to win the day.  Frears uses the incident to make a statement about the refugee crisis and racial prejudice.  The film’s best segment occurs here when the Queen chides her entire household with a speech that put them to shame.  This is a Dench’s award winning performance.

 

Frears’ assessment of Britain and royalty remains respectful.  The Queen at one point remarks: “A lot of people around the world hate me.”  Abdul says of the British as uncivilized on the ship en-route to England for the first time: “They put it’s blood in their sausages and eat sheep’s brains.”  The first words heard by Abdul on landing: “Welcome to Civilization!”

 

Queen Victoria is revealed in the film with all her grandeur (her robe and servants) but also with all her faults and her ageing process.  When she is first seen in the film, her face is not shown, but her body covered in white (like a shroud) in bed with snoring heard.  She also claims herself to be and shown as well as cankerous, ill-tempered, fat but also one that has held five generations of household and mother of many children and grandchildren.  “I am the Queen of England and the Emperor of India,” she claims proudly.

 

VICTORIA AND ABDUL is Frears’ mediocre film which is tolerant of everything and offends no one.  These kind of films are often humorous, handsomely mounted, well acted but unfortunately forgetful. 

 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT2Ph_9bGPs

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: VICTORIA AND ABDUL (UK 2017)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Victoria and Abdul Poster
Trailer

2:29 | Trailer
Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Lee Hall (screenplay), Shrabani Basu (based on the book by)

Stars:

Judi DenchOlivia WilliamsMichael Gambon

VICTORIA AND ABDUL chronicles with humour and insight the friendship between Queen Victoria (Oscar Winner Judi Dench) and a decades-younger Indian clerk named Abdul Karim. Karim has been summoned because of his height to present a ceremonial coin on behalf of British India to the Queen as a part of her Golden Jubilee in 1887. Abdul has done what is forbidden during the ceremony.

He makes eye contact with the Queen who finds him handsome. In no time he is cooking her curries, talking to her about his culture, and being elevated to the post of official clerk, or Munshi, becoming an indispensable part of the household — and state.

Frears’ assessment of Britain and royalty remain respectful. Queen Victoria is revealed in the film with all her grandeur (her royal attire and servants) but also with all her faults and her ageing process. She also claims herself to be and shown as well as cankerous, ill-tempered, fat but also one that has held five generations of household and mother of many children and grandchildren.

VICTORIA AND ABDUL is Frears’ mediocre film which is tolerant of everything and offends no one. These kind of films are often humorous, handsomely mounted, well acted but unfortunately forgetful.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT2Ph_9bGPs
 

VICTORIA AND ABDUL

Happy Birthday: Michael Gambon

michaelgambon.jpgMichael Gambon

Born: October 19, 1940 in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland

I’ve always tried to be an actor who… I just plod on and try to keep my mouth shut, mind my own business. I find the whole thing about people’s lives… I can’t understand it. I’m always astonished that people want to know anything about me.

(On replacing Richard Harris as Dumbledore) Richard was in heavy, heavy costume, he could hardly sit, you know, and I turned up and they put me in two layers of silk, so I played him much lighter – you know, floating around in a pair of slippers, a bit of a hippy.

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