With all of the best British agents dead or out of the country, it falls to Johnny English (Atkinson) to foil a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, cooked up by dastardly French businessman Pascal Sauvage, who wants to be King Of England.
It sounds like a recipe for disaster -a British spy spoof that goes straight for the lowest common denominator. Surely the Austin Powers films do that kind of thing better?
Well, the good news is that Johnny English, while hardly groundbreaking stuff, is at least as entertaining as anything Mike Myers' time-travelling crimefighter has done recently, reminding us just how talented Rowan Atkinson really is.
There's little here that you'll not have seen before: a convoluted plot, over-exaggerated French accents (mainly from a wonderfully hammy Malkovich), Imbruglia providing pretty set-dressing, and an array of pratfalls, sight gags and bodily fluid jokes. But the set-pieces are mostly genuinely funny (an impressive car chase sequence is a particular gut-buster). The whole thing zips along at a fair old pace, it doesn't outstay its welcome and cleverly avoids any unpleasant xenophobia by poking as much fun at the British as it does the French.
Okay, so it's not exactly highbrow. But who cares? This is crowd-pleasing stuff which plays like a British answer to The Naked Gun.