Johnny English

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This article is about the 2003 British film. For the American civil servant, see John F. English. For people named John English, see John English (disambiguation).
Johnny English
Johnny English movie.jpg
British release poster
Directed by Peter Howitt
Produced by Tim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Mark Huffam
Written by Neal Purvis
Robert Wade

William Davies
Starring Rowan Atkinson
Natalie Imbruglia
Ben Miller
John Malkovich
Music by Edward Shearmur
Cinematography Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Robin Sales
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • 11 April 2003 (2003-04-11)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom[2]
Language English
Budget $40 million[1]
Box office $160,583,018[1]

Johnny English is a 2003 British[2] comedy film parodying the James Bond secret agent genre. The film stars Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller and John Malkovich. Atkinson had previously appeared in the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again. The screenplay was written by Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with William Davies, and the film was directed by Peter Howitt. The film grossed a total of $160 million worldwide.[1] The film was followed by a sequel, 2011's Johnny English Reborn.


The film opens with a fantasy sequence in which Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), an inept British Intelligence agent, is "Agent One". He sneaks into a building, distracts two guard dogs with toys, knocks out two guards and seduces a woman who threatens him. He is awakened from his fantasy, just as he is about to kiss the woman, by his sidekick, Angus Bough (Ben Miller). After being assured that English has checked the submarine hatch codes personally, the real Agent One (Greg Wise) leaves on a mission. The audience then learn that Agent One died in action when his submarine hatch "failed to open". A bomb then wipes out Britain's remaining agents, all of whom were attending the funeral of Agent One, leaving only English. Nobody notices the hearse, which sped from the scene minutes earlier.

Before his death, Agent One was investigating a plot to steal the Crown Jewels. Together with Bough, English takes over the case. While investigating, English becomes attracted to a mysterious woman, Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia), whom he meets at the unveiling of the newly restored Crown Jewels, where English is in charge of the security. The power to the room is cut, and English accidentally knocks out the chief of security, before pretending to fight a criminal in another room in an attempt to cover up this fact. Later, Bough and English follow a tunnel and find the Jewels, but fail to stop the thieves after English accidentally ejects the magazine from his pistol. English chases their car, a hearse, but accidentally ends up trailing the wrong hearse after being stopped by a red light. Convinced the burial party he discovers is an act, he accuses the mourners and the priest before realizing his mistake after another man told English he was the hearse driver. Bough rescues him by pretending that English is an escaped asylum inmate.

The pair then uncovers the mastermind of the theft, French prison entrepreneur and descendant of William the Conqueror, Pascal Edward Sauvage (John Malkovich), who aided in restoring the Crown Jewels. English reports his suspicions to the head of MI7, Pegasus (Tim Pigott-Smith), but Pegasus, who is a personal friend of Sauvage, dismisses his concerns as absurd and orders English to leave Sauvage alone. In the car park, one of Sauvage's henchmen attacks English and Bough, and escapes when English mistakenly attacks Bough. Against Pegasus' wishes, English and Bough infiltrate Sauvage's headquarters via parachute, but English lands on the wrong building, abseiling the identical Royal London Hospital. He holds several staff and patients at gunpoint, before realising his mistake.

English activates a DVD player, exposing Sauvage's plan to instate himself as King, using an impostor to impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury (Oliver Ford Davies). Afterwards English accidentally injects himself with muscle relaxant during a tussle with Sauvage's henchmen, he and Bough are rescued by Lorna, who turns out to be an Interpol agent on Sauvage's tail (every major convict released from one of Sauvage's prisons in the last six months has been employed by one of his companies). Along with Bough, they gatecrash a party held by Sauvage welcoming a French ambassador. The muscle relaxant not yet worn off, English accidentally insults the Foreign Secretary (Jenny Galloway). One of the henchmen reports English to Sauvage, which results in Sauvage complaining to Pegasus, who suspends English in response. Sauvage decides that English has found out too much about his original plan, and sends his henchmen to dispose of the fake Archbishop and force Queen Elizabeth II (Prunella Scales) to sign a letter of abdication by putting a gun to her pet dog. Her signing also voids the Royal Family's right to the Crown as well as that of many others in the line of succession, thus making Sauvage the automatic heir to the throne.

Lorna visits English at his flat, as his mission was reassigned to her, and persuades English to join her. They travel to France, infiltrate Sauvage's chateau, and overhear his proposal to turn the United Kingdom into a giant prison once he is crowned King. However, English accidentally triggers a microphone, alerting Sauvage to their presence. In an attempt to steal an incriminating DVD, English accidentally drops it onto a tray full of identical discs without looking and takes the wrong one. Taken hostage, the two agents are rescued by Bough and return to England on the day of the coronation.

At Sauvage's coronation, English sneaks in disguised as the representative of the English bishops. He publicly accuses Sauvage of treason, and unaware that the fake Archbishop is no longer being used, English attempts to pull off the Archbishop's face, believing it to be a mask. Failing this, English pulls down the Archbishop's trousers to look for a tattoo borne by the impostor, which is obviously absent. English then radios to Bough to tell him to play the DVD they retrieved. Bough does so, resulting in three-quarters of the world's population watching a video of English, in a shower cap and underpants, dancing and miming along to "Does Your Mother Know" by ABBA (Sauvage had previously had English's home bugged in order to study him). English escapes, but comes back, swinging from a wire above Sauvage and the Archbishop, grabbing St Edward's Crown before it touches Sauvage's head. Out of frustration, Sauvage reveals his true intentions to London by pulling a gun and shooting at English. A bullet grazes English's hand and he drops the crown, but before the Archbishop can crown Sauvage, English knocks him out of the throne and is inadvertently crowned himself. He places Sauvage under arrest, reveals the plot to the Queen and allows her to return to the throne in return for a knighthood.

The film ends with English driving Lorna to the top of a mountain somewhere in the south of France where Johnny accidentally presses the eject button while about to kiss her, and Lorna shoots into the sky. A mid-credits scene shows Lorna landing in a swimming pool where Bough is sitting. Also alongside the pool is the fake criminal whom English had described knocking out to the chief of security earlier in the movie, noted for his orange frizzy hair and eye patch.



The character of Johnny English himself is based on a similar character called Richard Latham who was played by Atkinson in a series of British television advertisements for Barclaycard.[3] The character of Bough (pronounced 'Boff') was retained from the advertisements though another actor, Henry Naylor, played the part in the ads. Some of the gags from the advertisements made it into the film, including English incorrectly identifying a waiter, and inadvertently shooting himself with a tranquiliser ballpoint pen.

Filming locations[edit]

  • Some scenes were filmed at Canary Wharf in London— indeed, the film duplicates the single real tower into two identical ones (albeit on the real site) for the fictional London Hospital and Sauvage's headquarters at 1 Canada Square.
  • The scenes set in Westminster Abbey were filmed in St. Albans Abbey[citation needed]: though this connection is solely implied through the dialogue — for this footage is never intercut with footage of the real abbey's exterior. The interior (with the televisual screen hiding the St Albans organ) is clearly St Albans. The choir singing in the coronation scene is St Albans Cathedral Choir.
  • Both the exteriors and interiors in the opening credits sequence scene are in Mentmore Towers.[4]
  • 'Sandringham' is Hughenden Manor.[5]
  • The exterior and interior of MI7's headquarters which English enters at the start is Freemasons' Hall, London, which is also used as Thames House (the MI5 headquarters) in Spooks.
  • The scenes where Johnny English drives into Dover, Kent along the A20 road (with Dover Castle in the background) and then enters the Port of Dover (with a "Dover Ferry Terminal" sign, Dover's Athol Terrace and the White Cliffs of Dover in the background) to catch a ferry to France, were all shot on location.[6]
  • The exterior of Sauvage's French château is actually the castle atop St Michael's Mount in Cornwall.
  • A scene was filmed in Hong Kong, China.
  • The scenes in Brompton Cemetery were filmed there.


The film holds a 33% approval rating on the review site Rotten Tomatoes based on 116 reviews with the consensus "A tame spy spoof that elicits infrequent chuckles."[7] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 51 based on 32 reviews.[8]


All tracks written by Edward Shearmur and performed by London Metropolitan Orchestra unless otherwise noted.

  1. "A Man for All Seasons" (Hans Zimmer, Robbie Williams) – Robbie Williams
  2. "Theme from Johnny English" (Howard Goodall)
  3. "Russian Affairs"
  4. "A Man of Sophistication"
  5. "Kismet" (Written by Gay-Yee Westerhoff) – Bond
  6. "Truck Chase"
  7. "The Only Ones" – Moloko
  8. "Parachute Drop"
  9. "Pascal's Evil Plan"
  10. "Theme from Johnny English(Salsa Version)" (Howard Goodall) – Bond
  11. "Off the Case"
  12. "Cafe Conversation"
  13. "Into Pascal's Lair"
  14. "Zadok the Priest" – Handel
  15. "Does Your Mother Know" – ABBA
  16. "For England"
  17. "Riviera Highway"
  18. "Agent No. 1"

Home media[edit]

Johnny English was released on DVD on 13 January 2004 and on Blu-ray on 28 February 2012 along with its sequel Johnny English Reborn.


A sequel, Johnny English Reborn, was released in October 2011. Filming for the sequel began in September 2010, seven years after the release of the original and concluded in March 2011. The film follows Johnny English, now training in Asia after being disgraced in an earlier mission, as he attempts to foil a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier.


  1. ^ a b c d "Johnny English (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  2. ^ a b Lemire, Christy (2011-10-21). "Film review: 'Johnny English' fires wildly, but mostly misses comic targets". Deseret News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2011-10-22. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  3. ^ Stuart Heritage (13 April 2011). "Johnny English Reborn: I spy with my little eye …". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Johnny English filming locations". UK Onscreen. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Hughenden Manor". National Trust. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  6. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Johnny English Film Focus". 
  7. ^ "Johnny English Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  8. ^ "Johnny English Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 

External links[edit]