Australian Council on Children and the Media

Johnny English Reborn

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Short takes

Not recommended under 10. PG to 12 (Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Johnny English Reborn
  • a review of Johnny English Reborn completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 September 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to violent scenes
Children aged 10-12 Parental guidance recommended due to violent scenes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Johnny English Reborn
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild action violence
Length 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), accident prone British intelligence agent for MI7 is on a retreat high in the Tibetan mountains honing his Kung Fu skills. Meanwhile back in London, MI7 has been told by Hong Kong agent, Fisher (Richard Schiff), that a group of international assassins called Vortex is planning to kill the Chinese Premier. Fisher will only pass on vital information to Johnny English, whom Fisher trusts. Pamela Thornton (Gillian Anderson) the head of MI7 recalls Johnny English from his Tibetan retreat and teams him up with Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya) whose job is to keep Johnny on the straight and narrow. Kate Summer (Rosamund Pike), MI7’s behavioural psychologist is also assigned to keep an eye on English.

English and Agent Tucker are sent to Hong Kong and make contact with Agent Fisher, who gives English one of three keys needed to unlock the secret weapon that will be used to kill the Chinese Premier. However, before Agent Fisher is able to provide any further information he is killed.

Johnny English and Agent Tucker now have to track down the remaining two keys, dodging international assassins and becoming involved in conspiracies involving the KGB, CIA and MI7, as Johnny English attempts to save the life of the Chinese Premier and prevent global chaos and disaster.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Espionage; assassination

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film’s action violence, including the depiction of several violent deaths, is depicted in an unrealistic slapstick manner with minimal depiction of blood and gore. Examples include:

  • A kung fu priest kicks another priest in the genitals, and a man drags a large rock tied to his genitals across the ground. On another occasion, a man repeatedly kicks Johnny English in the genitals with English appearing unaffected by the assault and English kicks his attacker in the genitals with his attacker falling to the ground.
  • English burns his feet as he walks across hot coals.
  • Violent deaths include: a man falling onto a table dead with a small drink umbrella sticking out of his neck;  a man shot in the back of the neck and a man shot in the stomach by a sniper (no blood is depicted). 
  • A man stands in a suspended cable car and Johnny English fires a small rocket at the car which explodes in a ball of flames.
  • English engages in a fight with a number of men, kicking one man in the face and hitting another over the head with a wooden staff and another across the face. One man attacks English with a chain, a man kicks another man in the face, knocking him to the ground and a man is hit in the groin with a plank of wood.
  • In a case of mistaken identity, English knocks an old woman down then repeatedly hits her across the head with a serving tray and bends her arm behind her back. Later, the old woman hits English across the head with the same tray, knocking him to the ground.
  • A sniper with a rifle shoots Johnny English in the leg; we do not see a wound but see drops of blood on the ground. Later we see English with a bandage wrapped around his upper thigh.
  • A woman attacks English with a chainsaw disguised as a vacuum cleaner, using the chainsaw to slice through a door.
  • While under the influence of a mind control drug, English repeatedly hits his head against a wall and claws at his own face. He punches a woman in the face, knocking her unconscious.
  • A woman holds a knife to a man’s throat.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the above-mentioned violent scenes.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the above-mentioned violent scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Toshiba laptop computers, Roll Royce cars.

Sexual references

Johnny English Reborn contains some low-level sexual references and innuendo. Examples include:

  • A man says “I once held a White Russian in my hand; he was very lovely. The dialogue was referring to a drink, but had clear homosexual implications.
  • Johnny English refers to a woman as having plump pillows (breasts), a beautiful face and being completely out of his league.   
  • Johnny English and a woman almost kiss before being interrupted by a knock at the door. In an attempt to hide Johnny, the woman says “Bedroom quickly” and Johnny responds, “Definitely”.
  • After a woman gives Johnny English mouth to mouth resuscitation and then kisses him, Johnny tells his male assistant Agent Tucker, “I want kiss you if you don’t mind” with Tucker responding, “Well whatever”. 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • In a number of scenes women wear low cut tops.
  • A woman removes her dress in a sensual manner to reveal a brief bikini underneath Later we see the same bikini clad woman and Johnny English sitting in a jacuzzi engaging in mildly flirtatious behaviour.
  • Johnny English and a woman, Kate Summer flirt with each other 
  • A woman gives Johnny mouth to mouth resuscitation. Johnny regains consciousness and tells the woman “almost there” and she gives him a long passionate kiss on the lips.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man offers another man a drink, asking “what is your poison?” The man goes on to offer a number of different types of alcohol including vodka, rum and port.
  • In several scenes we see people holding glasses of wine.

Coarse language

The film contains occasional very mild coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • balls up, chimp, witch, old hag, Oh my god, baloney, moron, kick some bottom, god, what the hell?. 

In a nutshell

Johnny English Reborn rated (PG) is a comedy spy thriller targeting adolescents and adults. Although a little predictable it is likely to entertain those who enjoy spy spoof films or are Rowan Atkinson fans. Younger adolescents are likely to find the slapstick humour hilarious.

The main messages from this movie are that you should never give up or surrender regardless of how many times you fail.

Parents may wish to discuss the gender stereotyping in the film.

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