Spy movies have offered a great deal of escapism and thrills to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, something that Matthew Vaughn is trying his hands on with his latest film Argylle. The marketing for the movie has been quite interesting because there’s a lot of mystery in what the plot is and the big secret surrounding it. When it comes to spy films, Vaughn has been successful in that genre with The Kingsman franchise, but this one seems to stem from his ideas rather than from source material. The film relies a lot on Vaughn’s style of storytelling but also draws some ideas from other spy-related fare. Even though it’s less violent than his previous outings, there’s a lot to love about Argylle with its plot and characters.
Argylle starts with Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), a novelist who is the author of the spy novels that follow the adventures of the titular spy (Henry Cavill). As she starts to work on her next book, Elly is suddenly thrust into the world of espionage after she meets a real spy named Aidan (Sam Rockwell). On top of that, the author also discovers that the details in her novels happen to be closer to the truth in the real world. What transpires is a journey that takes Elly into a deadly plot that has her running for her life against a shadow organization as she discovers what is real and what is fictional as the lines of her reality begin to blur.
Argylle seems to take a lot of inspiration from movies in the 80s, particularly those like Romancing the Stone and earlier Bond films from that era. We find Elly trying to find herself in life but getting swept away by the imagination of her spy novels. The only companion in her life is her cat Alfie who accompanies her on this adventure. After finding Aiden, he tells her that the books she has written are happening in real life, and an organization known as The Division is on her tail to uncover what happens next. Led by Ritter (Bryan Cranston), Elly gets out of her shell and learns the reality of the spy world and just how dangerous it can be.
What the film excels at is the action sequences thanks to the amazing stunts done on screen. The opening sequence on the train is action-packed with great style that is similar to how Vaughn films those fights in his other movies. It certainly takes a lot of work to pull off those action scenes, but it makes the film stand out when we see our characters taking down bad guys and making it fun. It is often accompanied by an amazing soundtrack, which some were done by artist Dua Lipa who also has a juicy role in the film. The action choreography often feels like a dance flowing onto the screen. Some of it may come off as a bit cheesy, but it works for the style of action Vaughn is known for.
Despite Cavill being marketed as a leading man, the film’s main stars are Bryce and Sam. They both make an exceptional pair on screen thanks to their incredible chemistry. Sam’s character Aiden seems like the cocky spy who thrusts Bryce’s Elly into his world, which is something she has to pick up on the fly as they both get into some dangerous situations. Cavill may not be the main protagonist, but he does share some great qualities of an action star in a spy franchise despite the weird hairdo and choice of outfits. We also get to see some of that buddy-cop dynamic between him and his partner played by John Cena. It mirrors the relationship that Elly and Aiden have as the film’s plot unfolds at the same time as the novel. We do get some funny moments with Bryce along with Catherine Howard who plays Elly’s overbearing mother. Cranston’s villainous character fits between the fine line of his well-known role in Breaking Bad. Even the cat, who’s also at the center of the film’s marketing campaign gets to shine in some fun sequences.
What the film lacks is structure in the plot as pieces of the story get thrown at the audience with a lot of exposition to explain what’s going on. Some great plot devices bring some compelling twists into the story that we don’t expect, but some that can be somewhat predictable. The movie also relies a lot on CGI for most of its action sequences, which are very noticeable and can sometimes be a big distraction from what’s happening on screen. It comes off as perhaps some of the most craziest and bizarre action sequences shown in the film. It does come off as a bit outlandish in some respects, but it is exactly what audiences can expect from Vaughn with his visual flare in most of his movies.
Despite having a lot on its plate as far as the plot goes, Argylle is a film that becomes a fun spy adventure that offers more than meets the eye. This is the first time Vaughn has added some romance into his films, which rely a lot on action and comedic timing but he hasn’t lost touch of what makes him a unique filmmaker. It may not be as great as Kingsman, but it does remind audiences of what makes this genre so much fun to watch. It is original and gets to discover the emotional depth of these characters, which gives everyone that connection with them. The movie is a clever and original piece that shares what we all love about the spy genre, making it a fun cinematic experience.
Argylle releases in theaters on February 2nd, 2024.