Wednesday, January 31, 2024


Argylle is bonkers. The latest from director Matthew Vaughn, in his collaboration with screenwriter Jason Fuchs, contains more than a little Kingsman DNA in an over-the-top tale of a best-selling author who discovers the characters and stories she has been writing about are real. As a one-time experience, Argylle may be worth a viewing. As a film, the over-the-top tone is inconsistent for both the serious and comedic sequences it is constantly applied to. When the film leans into its inherent goofiness ratcheting up to levels that make Kingsman: The Secret Service look like a spy documentary, Argylle can be fun, but when it attempts to be serious about a story we simply can not take seriously the entire movie grinds to a screeching halt.

Bryce Dallas Howard stars as author Elly Conway who lives out a rich fantasy life in the stories of super-spy Argylle (Henry Cavill) and his team (John Cena and Ariana DeBose) taking on a corrupt spy organization. Rescued by an actual spy on-board a train, Elly discovers her stories are real and everyone wants to know what happens next.

While offering some value as spectacle, I can't imagine sitting through Argylle a second time. There are moments to be enjoyed, to be sure, but as a coherent narrative the film is a mess with twists and turns that are unnecessarily mansplained to an audience that Vaughn and the studio obviously didn't think highly enough to understand the wacky, but honestly not that complicated, plot. 

Despite their inclusion on the poster, Cena, DeBose, and Dua Lipa are barely in the film and each gets upstaged by the far larger roles of Bryan Cranston and Catherine O'Hara. Cavill, often appearing in Elly's hallucinations, gets a bit more screentime, but the film really centers around Howard and Sam Rockwell as the spy who saves Elly's life and will be responsible for breaking certain truths to her over the course of the film in his attempts to keep her alive and recover a document which could expose the corruption of the spy agency to the world. And Samuel L. Jackson is here because... well, why not?

The crux of the story is how Elly knows what she knows while deciding who can she trust after the unassuming author gets thrown into a world of real spies. The author's fantasy will bleed into the story from time to time with Argylle offering her advice or take the place of Aidan (Rockwell) while fighting off various interchangeable thugs such as in the film's best action sequence on-board a moving train. Without getting to far into the realm of fantasy, the limitations to the answers to both questions will likely occur to you long before the reveal (nor will you need the added explanation, each time, of the ramifications of each reveal).

The highs and lows of Argylle offer a roller-coaster of sorts, but likely not the one Matthew Vaughn intended. It's easy to see how it got shuffled off to the graveyard of early February releases which, honestly, is where it belongs. There are also some key plot holes which I won't spoil the plot to examine, but I think would be even more egregious a second time around. Fans of Vaughn may get a kick out of certain scenes, especially those late in the film when it leans into its craziness without second thought, but the film is ultimately a bit of a mess.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Argylle
  • IMDb: link

No comments: