Matthew Vaughn has thoroughly etched his name into the history books of the spy espionage film genre. It was the superhero genre that brought him mass market fame, but the Kingsman films cemented his legacy. Now, Vaughn continues that legacy with Argylle, offering a unique twist on the spy genre.
Argylle follows author, Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), as she is in the midst of writing her fifth spy novel, Argylle Book 5. However, it seems as though the events in her books have actually been happening in the real world. This has caused a nefarious spy agency to take notice. Conway will have to rely on good guy secret agent, Aidan (Sam Rockwell), to ensure she survives the coming adventure.
The film plays out mostly in the real world, but there are numerous instances when it switches to scenes from the books. During these scenes, we see the imaginary Argylle (Henry Cavill), and his partner Wyatt (John Cena). These scenes are over the top, as they depict a fictional world, and blend well with Vaughn’s style from the Kingsman films, and even as far back as Kick-Ass.
As Argylle progresses, there are a number of twists and turns that add to the enjoyment of the film. However, the comedy isn’t evenly toned, and this could cause issues for some moviegoers. The film continually offers moments of humor with a good quip, some one-liners, and even physical comedy. Rockwell puts on a masterclass here as the main comic relief throughout the first two acts of the film.
When the movie shifts into the final act, there’s a noticeable tonal shift. Instead of the over the top comedy being limited to book scenes, it seeps into the real world of the film. The fun banter is overpowered by Austin Powers-like jokes and physical humor, but without the trademark Michael Myers wit. For some, this transition will be fine, but it really depends on your style of humor. It will not resonate well with everyone.
Vaughn is known for stellar action sequences in his films. That trend is alive and well in Argylle, with plenty of action set pieces throughout. There’s rarely a dull moment, even when the film is providing an exposition dump that would slow most other movies down to a crawl. Add to that, Bryan Cranston, John Cena, and Samuel L. Jackson chewing up the scenery, and the ensemble cast really shines here, with Rockwell leading the pack.
The intention seems to be to have Argylle become part of a franchise, and while some of the over the top elements toward the end of the movie didn’t land as well as intended, there’s certainly room for more Argylle in the world. The film doesn’t stick the landing as well as the various Kingsman movies, but as a potential franchise starter, it’s a solid first entry.
Synopsis: A reclusive author who writes espionage novels about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate realizes the plot of the new book she’s writing starts to mirror real-world events, in real time.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jason Fuchs
Stars: Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena
Runtime: 2 Hours, 19 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.