Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures; Apple Original Films; and Marvel
Dua Lipa (with Henry Cavill) shines in her brief appearance. However, Argylle is an unnecessary addition to the already saturated spy genre, and it is another lengthy and exhausting film from director Matthew Vaughn.
The British filmmaker, known for his collaborations with Guy Ritchie and his marriage to Claudia Schiffer, has always struggled with editing his lengthy genre films. Even his most entertaining works, such as Stardust and Kingsman: The Secret Service, could have been more enjoyable if they were shorter. It’s a shame that DVDs and Blu-rays are no longer popular, as Vaughn could have included the deleted scenes in the special features section.
At 139 minutes, Argylle is another espionage adventure from Vaughn, who has been heavily leaning into the spy genre in recent years. He has turned Kingsman into a franchise, with a sequel and a prequel that were both affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Argylle seems to be the start of another spy universe, with Bryce Dallas Howard playing Elly Conway, a neurotic and introverted spy novelist who only has time for her work and her cat, Alfie.
Elly is reluctantly pulled into a mission when she meets Aiden (Sam Rockwell), an eccentric but effective operative. He informs her that her novels have been predicting the actions of a real-life evil spy organization, led by a cartoonishly diabolical Bryan Cranston. Aiden needs Elly to come up with an ending to her latest novel to see what the organization will do next.
With Argylle, Vaughn has created a madcap spy spectacle that can be enjoyed with your parents. Unlike the Kingsman movies, which were known for their vulgarity and violence, this film is more toned down. It’s like Vaughn made an action comedy for those who grew up playing Mortal Kombat with the “No Blood” option enabled.
However, the lack of violence is not what makes Argylle frustrating. Vaughn and screenwriter Jason Fuchs have put together a convoluted comic thriller that is predictable if you’ve seen any spy movie in the past 30 years. The film heavily borrows from other successful franchises, including one that stars Howard’s former co-star, Clint Eastwood.