Johnny English is an kind hearted but inept "MI7" agent with dreams of being their most trusted employee. After Agent One dies in a submarine accident (courtesy of English making a mistake on checking the submarine hatch code), the remaining agents are assassinated via a bombing at Agent One’s funeral (again courtesy of English's incompetence at security), leaving English as the lone surviving agent. English is assigned to follow a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, which are on display at the Tower of London.
At the display, English is head of security, and meets the mysterious Lorna Campbell. The power is cut, and the jewels are stolen. During the chaos, English knocks out Col Sir Anthony Chevenix, Head of Royal Security in the process and pretends to fight the assailant (in reality fighting himself).
He later makes up a false description of the assailant to MI7 head Pegasus. English and his assistant Angus Bough find the jewels were removed via a hole dug beneath their display case. The two follow a tunnel, confronting the two thieves Dieter Klein and Klaus Vendetta. The two escape in a hearse, with English trying to pursue them, but he mistakes another hearse for the escaped vehicle, gatecrashing a funeral until Bough comes to his aid by pretending he is from the lunatic Response Unit and that English is a patient named Gunther who wasn't supposed to be released until 2028 but was accidentally released due to "a most monumental cock-up".
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 beyond Bough getting a nose bleed (courtesy of English mistaking him for Vendetta and covering up for himself by saying that there could have been other thieves and adamantly insisting that Bough drop the issue and move on).
English again encounters Lorna Campbell in a sushi restaurant as he recognized her 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 decide to break into Sauvage’s headquarters via parachutes, but English lands on the other twin tower containing the City Hospital by mistake taking hospital employees hostage until he sees the "SAUVAGE" sign from the building with Bough inside.
He then covers for himself by telling the employees that the holdup was just a test of their emergency response systems while telling Bough that he merely did a precautionary sweep of the immediate environment. Going to the correct building, the two learn Sauvage, who is a descendant of Bonnie Prince Charlie, 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 breaking into Sauvage's office, assaulting the latter's staff and accidentally insulting the foreign secretary.
With English knowing their plans, Sauvage scraps 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 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 prisoners. 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 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 underclothes to “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA, Sauvage having bugged English’s flat beforehand, much to Pegasus' disgust. English sneaks away but swings in on a wire to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Sauvage. Sauvage angrily shoots at 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. In his singular act as king, English has Sauvage arrested and restores the Queen to the throne, requesting a knighthood as a reward.
In the final scene, English and Lorna 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. Lorna lands in a hotel swimming pool, where Bough happens to be vacationing as well as a man identical to the assailant that English described to Pegasus earlier in the film.Rowan Atkinson as Johnny EnglishBen Miller as Angus BoughJohn Malkovich as Pascal Edward SauvageNatalie Imbruglia as Lorna CampbellOliver Ford Davies as the Archbishop of CanterburyTim Pigott-Smith as PegasusKevin McNally as the Prime MinisterDouglas McFerran as Klaus VendettaSteve Nicolson as Dieter KleinGreg Wise as Agent OneTim Berrington as RogerPrunella Scales as Queen Elizabeth IITasha de Vasconcelos as Countess AlexandraNina Young as Pegasus' SecretarySam Beazley as Elderly Man at the HospitalKevin Moore as DoctorJack Raymond as French Reception WaiterJenny Galloway as the Foreign SecretaryChris Tarrant as Radio DJTrevor McDonald as Newsreader
In March 2000, before the release of Maybe Baby, Atkinson signed up to star as a spoof 007, with the news becoming official.
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. In September 2002, it was announced that Natalie Imbruglia, who wrote the theme tune for Johnny English, would star alongside Atkinson.
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. 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.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: 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.'Sandringham' is Hughenden Manor.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.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.
Johnny English received mixed reviews from critics. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 51 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
All tracks written by Edward Shearmur and performed by London Metropolitan Orchestra unless otherwise noted.
- "A Man for All Seasons" (Hans Zimmer, Robbie Williams) – Robbie Williams
- "Theme from Johnny English" (Howard Goodall)
- "Russian Affairs"
- "A Man of Sophistication"
- "Kismet" (Written by Gay-Yee Westerhoff) – Bond
- "Truck Chase"
- "The Only Ones" – Moloko
- "Parachute Drop"
- "Pascal's Evil Plan"
- "Theme from Johnny English (Salsa Version)" (Howard Goodall) – Bond
- "Off the Case"
- "Cafe Conversation"
- "Into Pascal's Lair"
- "Zadok the Priest" – Handel
- "Does Your Mother Know" – ABBA
- "For England"
- "Riviera Highway"
- "Agent No. 1"
Johnny English was released on DVD on 13 January 2004, and was also released on VHS on 11 August 2003, making it one of the very last VHS releases in the United Kingdom.
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, 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 is having to deal with getting framed.
In May 2017, it was announced that pre-production had begun on a third film, set to be released in October 2018.