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Argylle (A Movie Review)

ARGYLLE (2024)

Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O'Hara, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose, John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Rob Delaney, Jing Lusi, Richard E. Grant, Louis Partridge, Stanley Morgan, Alfredo Tavares, Tomás Paredes, Alaa Habib, Bobby Holland Hanton, Kandy Rohmann, Fiona Marr and Chip the cat.

Screenplay by Jason Fuchs.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 139 minutes. Rated PG-13.

There is something a little bit off about the action spy comedy Argylle from the very beginning, and it’s not just the fact that the filmmakers don’t know how to spell argyle.

Still, it started out somewhat promisingly. It is the tale of a thirty-something middle-classed bachelorette named Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) who has become a best-selling author by writing a series of novels about a debonair spy named Argylle (which, for some reason is pronounced argyle even though with the double L spelling it should be pronounced “ar-jill.”)

Argylle is played by Henry Cavill, and it should be noted that Cavill has a relatively small role here, despite getting top billing and being front and center in the poster. Cavill is just playing the fictional character in some fantasy sequences strewn throughout the story.

Novelist Conway is the lead character here. She lives a fairly uneventful life, doing readings (in which she seems to read the entire book right up to the very end?) at local bookstores and hangs out with her beloved cat. She is finishing the fifth book in the Argylle series, but she seems to have hit a brick wall as far as ideas go. So she decides to take herself and her cat on a train (she’s afraid to fly) to visit her parents (Catherine O’Hara and Bryan Cranston) in the hope that the change of scenery will help her come up with an ending.

While on the train, she meets up with an eccentric traveler named Aidan (Sam Rockwell) who claims to be a fan – and a spy. He also claims that she had somehow stumbled on a story in the last book which actually had happened and there are bad guys that assume she knows more about real-life espionage than most would expect.

Suddenly people everywhere are trying to capture or kill Elly and she is thrown into an adventure more crazed than any that she had ever written. She must take to the road with Aidan in order to save her life and figure out who is after her and why. She is in near constant danger – as is her cat (honestly, the poor kitty is way mistreated in this film, thrown around, dropped off a high-rise building, shot at, and forced to spend hours stuck in a kitty backpack.)

The early parts of Argylle were actually pretty much fun, but then about halfway through the film there is a major plot twist that pretty much lost me. I won’t say what it is – spoilers and all – but if you see it you will surely know. Then after that twist, you either buy into what Argylle is selling or not, and frankly I really didn’t.

In the meantime, the film just keeps on and keeps on (nearly two-and-a-half hours for this?) with one flashy-but-cartoonish (and fairly inexplicit) action sequence after another. A highly choreographed gun, knife and hand-to-hand fight in the middle of billows of colored smoke and throbbing strobe lights pretty much show what you are getting here. If you think it looks cool, then you may like Argylle. I felt it looked kind of ridiculous. No one has fought like that since West Side Story – or at least since the “Beat It” video. And at least those fights didn’t have to put up with the sensory overload of the special effects.

Argylle is apparently a loose offshoot of the Kingsman movie series – films which I must admit I have never seen, although a friend of mine is a huge fan. And, from what I hear, the Kingsman films share this movie’s light action vibe. But I have to think, or at least hope, that the Kingsman films are better than this.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2024 All rights reserved. Posted: February 2, 2024.

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