JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN isn't so much a movie as it is a test. Did you make it through all 101 minutes? Congratulations! You reeeeally love Rowan Atkinson! Collect your bug-eyed stare and malfunctioning novelty pen!
Now, I know what you're thinking: Did they tie up all the loose ends from Johnny English 1??? I'm sorry, I can't answer this burning question. I went in cold, not having seen the original. Shockingly, this did not hinder my ability to understand the plot of the sequel. Atkinson plays Johnny English, a disgraced agent of MI7 who returns from exile to stop a Manchurian Candidate-style assassination plot against the Chinese premier (a perfect mashup of the plots of The Naked Gun and Zoolander). He will do this through a combination of silly faces and an inability to operate even the simplest of gadgets. Can't operate gadget? BOOM, SILLY FACE!
Rowan Atkinson is undeniably talented, but this movie seems almost designed to determine who his most loyal fan is, like a reverse game of musical chairs where the empty seats keep multiplying. There are a couple clever jokes early on—for instance, that newly corporate MI7 was bought by Toshiba while Johnny was away, and is now determined to change their old cloak-and-dagger image. New logos blare "Toshiba MI7: Spying for you!"
It's a cleverly written gag, of which there are far too few. Don't get me wrong, Atkinson is great at silly faces. A Silly Face Hall of Fame first-ballot inductee for sure. But there's a limit to how far that can go. A half hour in, you think, "Huh, well this is cute and pleasantly surprising." A few minutes later you think, "Jesus, another hour of this?"
The first five minutes of Johnny English hint at what it'd be like if Atkinson's physical gifts were employed in the service of a clever, joke-dense spoof, à la Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun. The rest is literally an hour and a half of him making silly faces and falling down. He can't use an office chair! He beats up an old woman! Three times! Wait, wasn't that joke actually in The Naked Gun? I think they lifted the entire scene, the dirty colonialists.
The best use of this movie is as a counterpoint whenever anyone says British comedy is more sophisticated.