British Intelligence has other problems. The office weasel, Simpkins (Kenneth Williams - ), is put in charge of trainee agents Crump (Bernard Cribbins - She (1965) ), Honeybutt ( Barbara Windsor ) and Bind (Charles Hawtrey - ). Since the Secret Service is over-extended, the trainees are sent to retrieve a secret formula that the villains stole. In a parody of SPECTRE from the James Bond novels, the villains are STENCH - the Society for Total Extinction of Non-Conforming Humans.
The team get sent to Vienna, which has been rebuilt in the twenty years since The Third Man. This is the one bit which justifies the use of black and white film, because it allows multiple references to that movie.
The team meets up with Carstairs (Jim Dale - The Spaceman And King Arthur ), a hyper-competent agent who is the Bond figure of the story. Rather than help him, their constant bumbling interrupts every one of his plans. In all fairness, Carstairs is not a team player and he could at least tell them in advance that they should stay out of his way. In contrast, the trainees actually work very well as a team.
Simpkins gives a speech about how the Secret Service regards all recruits as being men, thus giving equality regardless of gender identity choice. That said, once they get to Algiers he tries to sideline Honeybutt for her own protection. Naturally she turns out to be a very competent agent. Crump insists on accompanying her, because of his over-protectiveness. Just as well, because a comedy like this requires an incompetent character (usually male) to be the butt of jokes and slapstick humour. There is also a mild issue of cultural appropriation, when Crump disguises himself as an Arab snake-charmer and then as a belly-dancer. Yes, it turns out that this cheap comedy that makes jokes about sex trafficking was not actually shot on location in a distant Third World country.
Their first case together is to retrieve property that has been stolen from Jerry Caesar (Dabney Coleman - The Invaders ). He is a seedy parody of High Hefner. The stolen property is a month's print run of Bait magazine, which is the movie's version of Playboy. The theft was committed by a group named PAGAN – which stands for People Against Goodness And Normality. Since Joe Friday is the champion of goodness and normality, it is obvious which side he will take.
Local politicians are involved in the conspiracy. Chief among them is the leader of the Religious Right - Reverend Curley (Christopher Plummer - Starcrash ).
Nobby must become a secret agent himself, but predictably makes a mess of things and accidentally seduces Precious from American Horror Story: Coven .
Martin gets talked into attending his High School Reunion, tempted by the thought of seeing his former girlfriend Debi ( Minnie Driver ), and his old buddies Paul (Jeremy Piven - ) and Bob (Michael Cudlitz - The Walking Dead ).
Unfortunately Martin gets tailed by a couple of Federal Agents, Lardner (Hank Azaria - Godzilla (1998) ) and McCullers (K. Todd Freeman - Buffy: Season 3 ). Also, a hitman named Felix (Benny Urdiquez - ) is out for Martin's blood.
When it came out in 1997, this was one of the best films of the year. However, it has faded quite a lot in the mean time. The story is simplistic, the humour is subtle, it is all quite understated. The result is that what was once thrilling and original is now nothing more than a mildly entertaining comedy-thriller.
Charlie Croker (Michael Caine - Dressed To Kill ) is gifted a plan to steal a cargo of gold bullion. With the sponsorship of Mr Bridger (Noel Coward - ) he hires a team of crooks that includes Yellow (Robert Powell - Jesus of Nazareth ) and Big William (Harry Baird - UFO ). They even recruit a computer expert named Professor Peach (Benny Hill - ).
After a brief encounter with the Mafia, the story moves to Italy. Croker's plan, inherited from a friend who was murdered by the Mafia, is to hijack a shipment of gold in the city of Turin. Although there is spectacular location footage from Italy, the traffic centre's interior scenes were obviously shot in a studio in England since they feature the familiar face of Louis Mansfield - better known as Von Smallhausen in Allo, Allo.
The third act of the film is what is perhaps the most classic car chase of all time. Our heroes must take three mini-coopers - patriotically painted in red, white and blue - through a traffic jam in the centre of Turin. The Italian police are in hot pursuit, in a Keystone Kops routine.
To add an element of real jeopardy, the British crooks still have to contend with the Italian mafia. However, this plotline is never concluded because of the literal cliffhanger ending. It would have made for a great sequel.
Our hero's investigation is dogged by a mysterious femme fatale ( Natalie Imbruglia ). The clues lead him to a creepy billionaire (John Malkovich - Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2005) ). His plan is to become King of England, and then turn the country into a prison-industrial complex for other nations.
Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson - Never Say Never Again ) is now a geography teacher in Lincolnshire. He is now reinstated, and reunited with his sidekick Bough (Ben Miller - Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism ). This is actually a good thing. English is a competent school-teacher, not the bumbling fool he usually is. By using old-fashioned analogue technology from the 1980s they render themselves virtually immune to their digitally-based opponent.
Our hero's investigation is dogged by a mysterious femme fatale (Bond girl Olga Kurlyenko ). The clues lead him to a creepy billionaire named Volta (Jake Lacy - Rampage (2018) ). His plan is to monopolise all the data of the G-12 nations.
Previously English's boss was Gillian Anderson , a Stella Rimmington type. Now he is responsible to the Prime Minister ( Emma Thompson ), a Teresa May type. Yes, the movie does not pass the bechdel test but at least there is no glass ceiling.
The film's humour is quite basic. Despite being highly competent when the story demands it, the protagonist is the living embodiment of Brexiteer bluster. He believes in good old-fashioned British exceptionalism, and pig-headedly sticks to his assumptions which repeadedly ends him up as the butt of comedy in slapstick situations.
Isla is suspicious of the new neighbours. They are too glamourous and competent for suburbia. It turns out that she is right, and they are not what they seem.
Most people in the suburb work in the same company as Zach - a military contractor doing top-secret work. It turns out that someone is leaking info to an arms dealer named The Scorpion (Patton Oswalt - Agents of SHIELD ). The suburban couple must go undercover as glamourous secret agents in order to catch the villain and save the day.
For a comedy, this film has quite a body-count. The so-called heroes think nothing of shooting up an entire floor of a Las Vegas hotel. The movie may have been made a few years before the 2017 massacre, but it still seems to be in quite poor taste. Also, ironic for a movie containing the new Wonder Woman but the most breath-taking woman in it is actually the comedic one.
Colonel Trautman (Powers Boothe - Agents of SHIELD: S3 ) goes to a Buddist Monastery (in Latin America) and recruits his best man - MacGruber. Once he is back, Mac gets a couple of sidekicks - Ryan Phillipe ( Way Of The Gun ) and Kristen Wiig .
This is a parody not just of the TV show MacGuyver, but of 1980s action movies in general. For example, his signature move is the throat rip from Road House.
Now, three decades later, Thorncroft is a has-been. Luckily for him, a mentally ill murder suspect named Paul Melly (Russell Tovey - Being Human ) believes the show is real. More specifically, the lucky break is that the local police request Thorncroft help them catch the killer.
Thorncroft is teamed up with Detective Constable Baines ( Andrea Riseborough ). However, this is not a parody of Forever and all the other mainstream cop shows these days. Instead we see Thorncroft reluctantly reunite with former co-stars. The result is a slapstick comedy-thriller that might be considered a missed opportunity. There is so much more that could be done with this concept. Hopefully there will be a sequel. Perhaps even a spin-off TV show, like Garth Marenghi's Darkplace .
NYPD Captain Michael Keaton ( Birdman ) appoints a couple of replacements - Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg - The Happening ) and Gamble (Will Ferrell - Land Of The Lost ). They are pretty much the opposite, a mis-matched pair of very flawed characters. Hoitz is a parody of the usual sqaure-jawed cops that Wahlberg often plays, while Ferrell is a desk-jockey with a secret past.
The comedy element is not simply parody of the police genre. There is a lot of more straight-up humour from Farrell. For example, he is irresistable to beautiful women like his wife Sheila ( Eva Mendes )!
Our hero is a US Navy SEAL, leader of a small team sent to rescue a kidnapped scientist.
Months later, when he has recovered from his injuries, he is reassigned to provide security for the scientist's family. He also has to help them out with their personal problems. The eldest boy (Max Theriot - House At The End Of The Street ) is being bullied at school. The eldest girl ( Brittany Snow ) has a boyfriend (Kyle Schmid - Blood Ties ). Our hero even gets himself a love interest - the school Principal ( Lauren Graham ).
In the third act, they must work together to save the scientist's secrets from enemy spies.
Back in the USA, Reese Witherspoon is jealous of her ex-boyfriend (Warren Christie - Alphas ). She has not gotten a new boyfriend yet, so her best friend ( Chelsea Handler ) sets up an online dating profile for her. Hardy's ex-wife ( Abigail Spencer ) has custody of their son, so he starts on-line dating too. Naturally, he and Witherspoon hit it off. Pine also bumps into Witherspoon, and pursues her until she agrees to date him.
The thriller storyline becomes a subplot. Their boss ( Angela Bassett ) pops up briefly to remind them they have a job to do, but they have other things on their minds.
Along with the online dating comes online stalking. The Special Agents take advantage of their Top Secret security clearance and run illicit background checks on her. Hardy actually points out that this is creepy as opposed to romantic, but Pine coins the phrase Cr-omantic as a joke. When they discover they are both dating the same woman, they forget about her feelings and just get incredibly competitive.
The contest is reminiscent of True Lies . Rather than just mis-use expensived government technology, the competitiveness means they actively destroy the tech in order to disadvantage each other. One of the minions points out there may be constitutional issues, but the boss just points out the Patriot Act.
The disregard for safety is blatant. Hardy even goes paintballing without safety goggles.
Finally the terrorists make are-appearance for the climactic car chase. But the real climax of the story is when Witherspoon makes her choice.
Zohan fakes his death, and moves to New York City under a fake identity. His dream is to be a world-class hair stylist. Unfortunately the American stylists do not have much faith in his abilities. Luckily Palestinian barber's shop owner Emanuelle Chiqui does ...
Unfortunately, the Zohan has not escaped his past. Not only is New York the largest Jewish city on Earth, but it also has a large population of Arabs. As the movie points out, there is a tradition for the city to play home to refugees and migrants who want to chase the American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One of them (Rob Schneider - Judge Dredd ) recognises Zohan. Worse, the Phantom himself has also retired to New York - to follow his own dream, cooking in a kebab shop.
This is a parody of action movies, but as a modern-day comedy it needs a happy ending. So the super-powered antagonists discover they have a lot in common, and end up working together against a common foe.
Despite the problematic nature of the subject - the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is central to the storyline - the only real issue the media found controversial was White-washing. Few if any of the actors in this are actually Israeli or Palestinian!
This film was released shortly after the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York City, 2001. As a result, shots of the NYC skyline had to be digitally altered to remove the WTC.