Johnny English

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Johnny English
Johnny English movie.jpg
Theatrical 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 date
  • 11 April 2003 (2003-04-11) (United Kingdom)
  • 18 July 2003 (2003-07-18) (North America)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom[2]
United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[1]
Box office $160.5 million[1]

Johnny English is a 2003 British spy comedy film directed by Peter Howitt and written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and William Davies. It is a British-American venture produced by StudioCanal, Working Title Films and Universal Pictures.

Starring Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, Ben Miller and John Malkovich, it is the first installment of the Johnny English film series and serves as a parody/homage to the spy genre, mainly the James Bond film series as well as Atkinson's character Mr. Bean.

Released theatrically in the United States on July 18, 2003, the film met with mixed reviews from critics but was commercially successful, having grossed $160 million worldwide against a budget of $40 million.[1] The film was released in the United Kingdom on April 11, 2003 and topped the country's box office for the next three weekends, before being overtaken by X2.[3][4][5]

Due to its commercial success it was followed by two sequels, Johnny English Reborn and Johnny English Strikes Again in 2011 and 2018, respectively.


Johnny English is a kind hearted but inept MI7 secret agent with dreams of being their most trusted employee. After Agent One dies in a submarine accident unknowingly caused by English, the remaining agents are assassinated via a bombing at Agent One's funeral, leaving English as the lone surviving agent capable of finishing the mission Agent One left when he died.

English is assigned to thwart a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, which are on display at the Tower of London. During the display, the power suddenly suffers a blackout and the jewels are stolen. During the chaos, English accidentally knocks out the deputy head of security and pretends to fight an assailant out of sight to cover up for his mistakes.

He later makes up a false description of the "assailant" to MI7 head Pegasus. English and his assistant Angus Bough find that the jewels were removed via a hole dug beneath their display case. The two follow a tunnel where they confront the two thieves Dieter Klein and Klaus Vendetta, who escape in a hearse, with English trying to pursue them but he mistakes another hearse for the escaped vehicle to which he accidentally gatecrashes a funeral until Bough comes to his aid by pretending English is an escaped mental patient.

English connects the thieves to Pascal Sauvage, a French prison entrepreneur who helped restore the Crown Jewels. Pegasus finds the claims of his involvement absurd and warns English not to involve Sauvage. In the car park, English and Bough are attacked by Vendetta, but are unharmed. English again encounters Lorna in a sushi restaurant as he recognised her pink motorcycle.

During their meeting, English is suspicious of her since he has seen her at two of their crime scenes and her records cannot be found on any government computer. English and Bough then decide to break into Sauvage's headquarters via parachutes, but English mistakenly lands on a visually identical tower which turns out to be the City Hospital.

Going to the correct building, the two learn that Sauvage, who is a descendant of Charles Edward Stuart, plans on making himself king, using an impostor to impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lorna arrives, revealed to be an Interpol agent tracking Sauvage. With evidence of Sauvage's involvement, English crashes a reception hosted by Sauvage but he is suspended from work by Pegasus for his actions.

With English knowing their plans, Sauvage scraps the plan to use the fake Archbishop and instead sends his minions to force Queen Elizabeth II to abdicate by threatening her corgis, causing the entire line of succession to be swept clean for Sauvage to become king. Lorna, now in charge of the assignment by Pegasus, visits the depressed English and convinces him to travel with her to Sauvage's French château to investigate.

Eavesdropping on Sauvage's meeting with internationally renowned criminals, English and Lorna learn Sauvage plans to turn the United Kingdom into the world's biggest prison when he becomes king. English and Lorna are exposed when the former accidentally activates a microphone, and they are taken prisoner. English tries to steal the DVD of Sauvage's plan, but accidentally drops it onto a tray of identical discs and takes the wrong one without looking. Bough rescues the two from captivity and they race to stop Sauvage's coronation.

English crashes the coronation and discovers the Archbishop is the genuine article. Undeterred, English orders Bough to play the DVD, only to find it is camera footage of himself dancing in his bathroom in his underwear to "Does Your Mother Know" by ABBA, Sauvage having bugged English's flat beforehand. English sneaks away, but swings in on a wire to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Sauvage.

Sauvage then attempts to kill English with a pistol, causing him to drop the crown. Moments before Sauvage is crowned king, English drops from the wire after being shot, lands on the throne and is crowned instead. Because of the succession laws, English is now technically the King of England. In his singular act as king, English has Sauvage arrested and restores the Queen to the throne by simply requesting a knighthood as a reward.

English and Lorna then drive to southern France for a romantic holiday only for English to accidentally launch Lorna out of the car by pressing the ejection seat button while leaning in to kiss her. In a mid-credits scene, Lorna lands in a hotel swimming pool where Bough is seen on holiday; as well as a man identical to the fictitious assailant that English described to Pegasus earlier in the film.



In March 2000, before the release of Maybe Baby, Atkinson signed up to star as a spoof 007, with the news becoming official.[6]

In July 2002, Johnny English started principal photography. The film shot for fourteen weeks, filming at Shepperton Studios, on location in London and St. Albans, and finally setting down in Monte Carlo for two days to complete filming the final scene.[7] In September 2002, it was announced that Natalie Imbruglia, who wrote the theme tune for Johnny English, would star alongside Atkinson.[8]

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.[9] 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:[10] 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.[11]
  • 'Sandringham' is Hughenden Manor.[12]
  • The exterior and interior of MI7's headquarters which English enters at the start is Freemasons' Hall, London,[10] 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.[13]
  • The exterior of Sauvage's French château is actually the castle atop St Michael's Mount in Cornwall.[10]
  • A scene was filmed in Hong Kong.
  • The scenes in Brompton Cemetery were filmed there.[10]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 33% based on 118 reviews with an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A tame spy spoof that elicits infrequent chuckles."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 51 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[15]


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 was also released on VHS on 11 August 2003.

The film was released on Blu-ray on 28 February 2012, along with its sequel Johnny English Reborn. The film was released on Netflix in February 2016.


A sequel, titled Johnny English Reborn, was released in October 2011. In September 2010, filming for the sequel began, 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, while a traitor is found in "MI7" and English has to deal with being framed.

In May 2017, it was announced that pre production had begun on a third film titled, Johnny English Strikes Again, which was released on 5 October 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Johnny English (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  2. ^ 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 22 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  3. ^ "Weekend box office 11th April 2003 - 13th April 2003". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Weekend box office 18th April 2003 - 20th April 2003". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Weekend box office 25th April 2003 - 27th April 2003". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Rowan Atkinson to star as spoof 007". March 2, 2000. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  7. ^ "Johnny English - Production Notes". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  8. ^ "Natalie Imbruglia Takes On Hollywood". September 20, 2002. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  9. ^ Stuart Heritage (13 April 2011). "Johnny English Reborn: I spy with my little eye …". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "Johnny English (2003)". British Film Locations. 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  11. ^ "Johnny English filming locations". UK Onscreen. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Hughenden Manor". National Trust. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  13. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Johnny English Film Focus".
  14. ^ "Johnny English Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  15. ^ "Johnny English Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-11-20.

External links[edit]