Argylle Review

Featuring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Henry Cavill, Sofia Boutella, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose with John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson.

Genre: Spy, Action, Thriller

Director: Matthew Vaughn

In Cinemas: 1st February 2024


From the twisted mind of From the twisted mind of Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman franchise, Kick-Ass) comes Argylle, a razor-witted, reality-bending, globe-encircling spy thriller. Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World franchise) is Elly Conway, the reclusive author of a series of best-selling espionage novels. Her idea of bliss is a night at home with her computer and her cat, Alfie. But when the plots of Elly’s fictional books—which centre on secret agent Argylle and his mission to unravel a global spy syndicate—begin to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organisation, quiet evenings at home become a thing of the past. Accompanied by Aidan, a cat-allergic spy played by Oscar ® winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Elly (carrying Alfie in her backpack) races across the world to stay one step ahead of the killers as the line between Elly’s fictional world and her real one begins to blur. The top-flight ensemble features—as Elly’s imagined book characters—Henry Cavill (The Witcher) as agent Argylle; John Cena (Fast X) as Argylle’s best friend, Wyatt; Oscar ® winner Ariana DeBose(West Side Story) as their fearless field tech, Keira; Oscar ® nominee Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Fowler, a senior member of agent Argylle’s organisation, and Grammy-winning superstar Dua Lipa (Barbie) as Argylle’s elegant, lethal nemesis, Lagrange.

The film’s real-world characters include Emmy winner and Oscar ® nominee Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Ritter, the director of the evil spy organisation known as The Division; Emmy winner and comedy icon Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek) as Elly’s mother, Ruth; Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Saba Al-Badr, the mysterious. “Keeper of Secrets,” and the legendary Samuel L. Jackson as former CIA deputy director Alfred Solomon. CHIP plays Alfie, the real-life cat of supermodel Claudia Vaughn (née Schiffer).



Matthew Vaughn is renowned for his action-packed movies, which always have over-the-top fun elements and visually look spectacular when clever ideas work out. He doesn’t hold back when displaying them with his latest offering, Argyle. We can tell that each action scene sequence was carefully designed around characters fighting in an entertaining and suspenseful way. There is a scene near the beginning of the film when, on a train, Elly (Dallas Howard) first meets Aidan (Rockwell), and the events that follow after their brief encounter are so engaging and absorbing that they immediately make you invested in the movie. The level of precision and detail instilled into the choreography and design of that scene is remarkable. Vaughn uses his attention to be creative during scenes of madness and cleverly uses editing to use the illusion of fact and fiction in the reality of his characters. There is an additional scene later on throughout the film that uses the same ideas in a similar light, and it is here where Vaughn incorporates big, bold, beautiful, and bright colours that seem like an event spectacle rather than a movie. He perfectly uses his imaginative and artistic skills to construct pleasing and attractive action sequences.


Unfortunately, all of his energy and innovative ideas seemed devoted to only that section of the film, which is a shame because he has that positive capability when displaying productive qualities in his other work. There are several issues surrounding the ideas that never seem to work and instead overcomplicate the plot when balancing and attempting originality. Dua Lipa appeared for a maximum of five minutes and was cast presumably for her notable star status and popularity. On the promotional poster, she is front and centre ahead of the lead actor in the film. Several things could be improved in doing this, creating a false expectation for the audience to see her for the entire film when it is undeniably the primary focus for using a tactic to increase ticket sales. She has a brief appearance dancing with Argylle (Henry Cavill) and is a decent enough actor when she has moments of dialogue. But then, when the problematic Computer-generated imagery is introduced, they almost immediately decide to superimpose Dua Lipa riding a motorbike into the sunset. CGI is the main culprit throughout Argyle. It would be attainable to agree that it would not be possible to produce Argylle without CGI. But, there is never an attempt to polish the sequences where needed; when used, it always looks amateur and noticeable.


Overall, the casting was satisfactory, with some characters considerably better than others, each bringing their unique qualities to the role. Bryce Dallas Howard, as Elly, was well suited to the role and portrayed the character proficiently; she seemed to struggle at times and felt a little out of her depth during the required moments of action. Bryan Cranston gave an exaggerated rendition of a Shakespearean performance style of acting, with his complex and heightened prose delivery, which would be better suited in King Lear. Sam Rockwell as Aidan is often exciting to watch when on screen but can often quickly become wearisome. Catherine O’Hara has that warmth about her when she is on screen, and Samuel L. Jackson is always a pleasure to watch; he could be watching paint dry in this film, and it would still be appealing. Alfie, the cat, played no sufficient purpose or meaning in the movie, became more of a distracting hindrance and did not add any value or additional merit to the story’s narrative. The plot became so tangled and convoluted in the objective of a clever spy film that it covers and masks itself within the decent action scenes. There are parts where a notepad or a road map can be a suggestion when trying to digest and understand the chaotic and sometimes needless plot.

Overall: 5/10

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