There have been films based on books, video games, theme park rides and even songs, but Johnny English
must be the first one based on an advert. Taking its inspiration from the Barclaycard commercials, which starred Rowan Atkinson as a hapless MI6 agent, this full-length film is a cross between a James Bond spoof and Mr Bean. Johnny (a pen-pusher who dreams of a life in her majesty's secret service) is given the mission to protect the crown jewels after a bomb kills all of MI6's existing spies. Unfortunately they are stolen from right under his nose by evil industrialist, Pascal Sauvage (a ridiculously accented John Malkovich) who is intent on seizing the British throne and turning the UK into the biggest prison colony in the world. Thus follows comic set-piece after set-piece, including a hilarious car chase and the obligatory breaking-into-the-evil-genius's-lair sequence, in which English, ably assisted by his much more intelligent subordinate Bough (a brilliantly patient Ben Miller), tries to recover the jewels, stop Sauvage's nefarious scheme, prove to his superiors that he is not completely insane and get the girl, here an Interpol agent played by Natalie Imbruglia.
It's a one-joke movie: he's the worst secret agent in the world. Situations and script are more than a trifle cliched, too, and John Malkovich's performance is cringeworthy. But Atkinson's talent for creating a frustrating but ultimately endearing character is firmly set in the British tradition of rooting for the underdog. The result is an entertaining and endearing spoof with some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments and sparks of originality that more than outnumber the groans. --Kristen Bowditch
James Bond spoof starring Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English, a lowly government clerk who suddenly finds himself promoted to the position of Britain's Number One International Spy. Sent into action after the crown jewels are stolen, English and his sidekick Bough (Ben Miller) soon begin to suspect billionaire Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich). The plot thickens when the mysterious Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia) begins turning up in the most unexpected places.