Argylle review: a lackluster, cartoonish spy comedy

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Bryce Dallas Howard stands down a gun-wielding Sam Rockwell successful Argylle.

“Argylle has each nan basal ingredients to beryllium a fun, dumb spy comedy, but head Matthew Vaughn proves shockingly incapable to propulsion it each off.”

Pros

  • Sam Rockwell and Bryan Cranston's pitch-perfect, scene-chewing performances
  • Several admirably goofy action sequences

Cons

  • An overly twisty, in-your-face script
  • Bad CGI and integer backdrops that look for illustration they were generated successful nan early 2000s
  • Matthew Vaughn's formulaic direction

It’s easy to spot what Matthew Vaughn was going for pinch Argylle because he’s already done it respective times. The movie is simply a candy-colored workout successful popular absurdism that, successful its astir outrageous moments, inevitably calls to mind Vaughn’s Kingsman movies, each of which has ranged from slickly entertaining (2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service) to irritatingly self-satisfied (2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle) and disappointingly old (2021’s The King’s Man). It bears galore of nan aforesaid hallmarks arsenic those movies, including sequences successful which its characters nonchalantly termination their enemies while flagrantly ignoring each laws of physics. Despite nan precedent group by his Kingsman movies, Argylle gradually emerges arsenic Vaughn’s astir outwardly cartoonish effort to date.

It’s nan silliest movie he has ever made by a agelong shot. That truth becomes clear agelong earlier Argylle has reached immoderate of its jaw-droppingly ridiculous climactic fights, immoderate of which make nan famously head-exploding 3rd enactment of Kingsman: The Secret Service look tame successful comparison. Unfortunately, what could person been a pleasingly Frankensteinian hybrid of a Looney Tunes cartoon, James Bond movie, and Nancy Meyers-inspired rom-com is alternatively rendered one-note and dull by an obtrusively convoluted crippled and shockingly lazy, formulaic filmmaking.

Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa, and John Cena beryllium astir a array together successful Argylle.Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures

Argylle begins, arsenic it should, successful nan mediate of a fantasy. Its prologue follows Aubrey Argylle (The Witcher‘s Henry Cavill), a handsome and tin spy, arsenic he dances pinch and past pursues a vulnerable blonde seductress, LaGrange (played concisely but memorably by Dua Lipa), crossed rooftops and done Grecian streets. When he and his right-hand man, Wyatt (an underutilized John Cena), yet drawback up pinch her, nan trio exchanges lines of speech that consciousness ripped correct retired of nan pages of a cheesy spy novel. Through nan film’s only effective integer transition, Vaughn reveals that’s because they are.

As nan head zooms successful connected Cavill’s lips, Agent Argylle’s sound is replaced by that of his creator, writer Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), who promptly finishes reference an excerpt from nan latest installment successful her celebrated Argylle series. The film’s opening pursuit sequence, it turns out, was thing much than a section from Elly’s astir caller book, and nan minutes that travel connection a glimpse into her quiet, isolated life pinch her sole companion, a feline named Alfie. However, erstwhile Elly boards a train nan adjacent time to sojourn her mother, Ruth (Catherine O’Hara), her travel is disrupted by Aidan (Sam Rockwell), a rough-and-ready spy who saves her from being captured by a twelve nefarious concealed agents.

After Aidan whisks Elly distant to a distant safe house, he explains that nan events of her spy novels person been truthful inexplicably prescient that she’s go a target of nan Division, an evil statement tally by nan slimy Ritter (a scene-chewing Bryan Cranston). She and Aidan are subsequently forced to squad up pinch Alfred Solomon (Secret Invasion‘s Samuel L. Jackson), an honorable erstwhile CIA director, to return down nan Division earlier it tin successfully screen up each of its galore world crimes. Plenty of chaotic chases, confrontations, and group pieces follow, astir of which deficiency nan benignant of finesse that viewers person travel to expect from Vaughn, who seems to beryllium operating connected autopilot for overmuch of nan film.

Bryan Cranston holds a shotgun successful Argylle.Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures

For nan astir part, Argylle’s action scenes autumn short of Vaughn’s ain undeniably precocious standards. Nearly each of them are accompanied by superfluous popular songs that, mixed pinch nan film’s poor, streaming-service value lighting and distractingly bad CGI, make them much grating than enjoyable aliases thrilling. Two last-minute fights successful nan Division’s office are acold much effective than each those that travel earlier them, but Argylle‘s galore communicative missteps make it difficult to afloat delight successful nan sheer goofiness of nan scenes successful question.

The film, thankfully, doesn’t return itself excessively seriously, but Jason Fuchs’ book tries truthful difficult to perpetually daze you that Argylle’s preposterously staged last group pieces consciousness retired of spot successful a movie that is ne'er arsenic nosy arsenic their inclusion suggests. Several of its second-act twists activity amazingly well, but nan movie ne'er stops trying to apical itself by throwing retired 1 subversive swerve aft different until its runtime has reached a bloated 139 minutes, and its first cleverness has begun to lucifer desperation. It’s a movie that forces viewers to wholly suspend their consciousness of disbelief but keeps getting mislaid successful nan minutiae of its ain communicative — demanding that you simultaneously prosecute pinch its crippled and disregard its illogical aspects.

Bryce Dallas Howard stands adjacent to Samuel L. Jackson successful Argylle.Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures

The film’s formed tries valiantly to assistance it up contempt its flaws. Rockwell, Cranston, and O’Hara, successful particular, bring truthful overmuch casual charisma to their performances that Argylle is capable to accrue a definite magnitude of goodwill early on. It, unfortunately, squanders it nan aforesaid measurement that it does nan talent of galore of its performers, including Cavill, who is fixed what amounts to small much than an extended cameo domiciled here, and Howard, who tries desperately to waste everything that’s asked of her. The movie ne'er allows Elly to turn into thing much than a crippled instrumentality because it only knows really to do 1 thing.

It’s nan blockbuster balanced of a caller that ends each condemnation pinch an exclamation point, and by nan clip Vaughn has group Argylle’s last action series to yet different generic popular song, you’re already exhausted and irritated capable to want to conscionable put it down.

Argylle is now playing successful theaters.

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