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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Alex Reviews "Argylle"

Taking the reigning directorial king of fun, over the top action and giving him an amazing cast to play with should yield the most fun film possible and Argylle just might be the best execution of that in 2024.

 

Elly Conway, portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard, is a timid introvert who happens to write one of the most successful series of spy novels in the world. When her new story hits a little too close to home for a villainous covert agency led by Bryan Cranston’s (unnamed in the trailers) ruthless spy master, they believe that she knows more than an unconnected author would and it is up to a goofy agent, played by Sam Rockwell, to protect her…or is it? (This is a very self-aware spy film after all.) Elly struggles with the blending of her real and literary worlds while trying to keep her and her beloved cat alive through an insane series of events that just might save the world, well, at least hers.

 

Argylle is going to be a very polarizing movie for audiences as its peaks are as high as Matthew Vaughn and his cast can push them, but there are some questionable instances that will take some viewers out of the experience. I rather enjoyed the campy action to the point that I cannot shake a particular thought that I will save for the very last minute, as it is independent of this picture.

 

Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service) is at his best when he has the freedom to play with his own narrative, but I was surprised to see that this was not his own story as it feels like his through and through. The whimsy and intensity balance incredibly well during the action scenes, however there are multiple times where the narrative almost seems to lose itself as much as it messes with the audience’s scope. Wildly engaging throughout most scenes, but with moments that make you question what is happening or outright losing me. Due to the picture’s length of almost two and a half hours, I wonder if it would have been better served as a miniseries or multiple shorter films. I honestly don’t think there would be much to cut, as every scene sets up or delivers on an earlier narrative beat. While being visually stunning at first, the overuse of green screen becomes odd and overbearing at times despite the picture and visual effects being very clean. My guess is that this was a necessary evil to keep the movie from having an ungodly budget after the massive talents both in front of and behind the camera.

 

The best part of the film is the acting, but that is wildly unsurprising when you run down the list of those involved. Samuel L. Jackson is amazing regardless of what a role calls for and he slides seamlessly into place within the world of this picture. John Cena is barely seen in the film but nails his moments. Bryan Cranston literally can do no wrong in a role that requires a lot of range dependent on the story. Sam Rockwell and Bryce Dallas Howard are spectacular. Not sure how much acting Rockwell was doing outside of his action scenes because the hippy vibe and goofball tendencies felt an awful lot like he was given the directions, “Here’s your lines. You are already a silly man, so use that.” Although that could just be his talent rather than a personality trait. Bryce Dallas Howard is so incredible that I could have just written this entire review about her, but it would venture into spoilers far too easily. The only piece I want to know is who had the idea for the subtle jab at Jurassic World because I almost peed laughing.

 

While Argylle has issues aplenty, the film is still stupid fun and worth every bit of a watch, though I believe there was intent in leaving a lot of meat on the bone (stay through the credits) despite the self-contained story. The tease from earlier is: I need Matthew Vaughn starting a new era of James Bond movies in the flippant style of the Roger Moore films after the incredibly serious and awesome ones of recent memory. Argylle might be a job interview for that without trying to be one. The titular character’s actor was almost cast as Bond before, why not keep Henry Cavill and make those films too?

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