The story is straightforward, but that’s not necessarily a downside; the film seems more intent on concocting absurd scenarios for the main character. Atkinson’s Johnny English is less of an idiot this time, portraying instead a well-meaning underdog who often stumbles into success. As long as the focus remains on English’s comedic misadventures—be it in a posh restaurant, a dance club, or a villains’ ship—the film is entertaining. The moments where Atkinson leans into his Mr. Bean persona are particularly effective.
However, the film starts to falter when it attempts to resolve its rather thin plot. When Atkinson dons armor in a Scottish castle and sets out on a quest to save Great Britain—and the world—the third Johnny English installment becomes increasingly tedious and grating. Atkinson excels in sketches and comedy skits, but struggles to sustain interest in a feature-length film that demands a narrative arc and character development.
In retrospect, I recall not enjoying the first Johnny English film but liking the second one, although specific details escape me. I suspect my experience with the third installment will be similar. While Atkinson shows in several scenes that he’s still got comedic chops, these moments often have little to do with the character of Johnny English. Ultimately, it’s a telling sign when, after watching the third Johnny English film, you find yourself yearning for the return of Mr. Bean.
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