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Austin Powers, Johnny English and now Richard Thorncroft A.K.A Mindhorn. It is a very British tradition in the audiovisual world to come up with irreverent, politically incorrect and hilarious private investigators that get to “crack the case and get the girl” in the most unexpected, insane and quite usually fortunate way. We could add to this three-name list a couple of other characters like Sacha Baron Cohen’s Grimsby; or Colin Firth’s Harry Hart-Kingsman, but they are not exactly molded in the same pattern if we think about it thoroughly. In case we wanted to do that, of course.
And, as Myers and Atkinson, his predecessors, did, Barratt’s character will be loved and loathed in equal measure. He is a chauvinist, tacky, kind of racist, selfish, narcissistic piece of work who, eventually, will learn about true love, generosity and respect. But before he gets there, lots of people will be offended by his jokes and modus operandi, to put it nicely.
As far as the writer of this article is concerned, there are two possible ways of looking at it:
One: in order to get another example of the worst kind of English man with all its prejudices, negative clichés and mentality, we don’t need to spend 12 pounds and go see a make believe character messing around, Nigel Farage is within reach for no charge.*
Two: it is actually quite admirable to see that the same concept (Powers, English) can be redone and still feel fresh and funny. If you, as a reader of this article and respectable member of the audience, hate Mike Myers’ films, then you will hate this one too; there’s no way around it. On the other hand, if you laughed with Austin Powers and Johnny English (publicly or not) and feel like another portion of good ol’ politically incorrect British humour, you will love this film. **
*But at least with Mindhorn you get to laugh.
**In all honesty, Mindhorn’s tone is less hysterical than Power’s but more irreverent than English’s; so there’s that.