One expects silly/stupid movies in January and February. However, when said silly/stupid movies have a run time of two hours and 19 minutes, a line has been crossed --- and certainly not in a good way. Such is the case with director Matthew Vaughn’s latest effort, ARGYLLE. He has made the most egregious error.
Billed as an action, comedy, drama, mystery --- and thriller --- none of which aptly describes this stinker, ARGYLLE does actually have an interesting premise, but Jason Fuchs’ screenplay falls flat as does its execution. There are simply far too many protracted fight scenes with one --- or sometimes two --- agents disposing of a ridiculous number of opposition forces.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Elly Conway, a stay-at-home author of very successful spy novels. She and her darling cat, Alfie (Chip), live alone in a peaceful, lakefront home --- just how Elly prefers.
She’s having trouble completing the latest book in her series about a hot international spy named Argylle (Henry Cavill) and his sidekick, Wyatt (John Cena). Her mother, Ruth (Catherine O’Hara), suggests Elly come for a visit so they can brainstorm.
On the train, Elly meets Aidan (Sam Rockwell), a real spy, who prevents her from being captured by a bunch of thugs from a competing --- and nefarious --- global spy syndicate, known as Division. What ensues is a crazy --- and not necessarily entertaining --- race across several continents to save themselves and destroy Division.
A tad silly --- yes. Sometimes stupid --- definitely. But not all bad if it had been better edited. Dallas Howard is well suited as Elly, the author, but as ARGYLLE moves along and the plot thickens, her character doesn’t register in the second half of the film. And my illustrious partner, David, who almost slept through the first half, believes there was good chemistry between Elly and Aidan. I do not. But what does he know?
Besides Alfie, the cat, who is propelled by CGI much of the time, Rockwell is the best in the cast. He doesn’t take himself as Aidan too seriously, which is refreshing. As in most of his roles, he’s fun to watch.
On the other hand, Cavill isn’t given much to do but sit around and look weird with an absurd haircut. Same for Cena, who has even less to do. Bryan Cranston has a pivotal role, though not much there either. And the always delightful Samuel L. Jackson is present as Alfred Solomon, the former CIA Deputy Director. Unfortunately, he's not around enough.
ARGYLLE boasts a great cast. It’s a pity Fuchs’ screenplay doesn’t deliver. It certainly isn’t very funny, or dramatic. Nor is it a mystery or a thriller. Take a pass on Vaughn’s latest and see one of the Oscar-nominated films instead.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!
The new action/comedy ARGYLLE has more twists and turns than most Formula One races. It would be nigh impossible to properly describe the film’s plot without giving away its biggest surprise.
It features a cast of veteran actors who generally do a good job with what they’re given. The film showcases a feline named Alfie without overdoing the animal’s exposure. ARGYLLE also has colorful special effects particularly effective in one fantasy scene.
However, the movie contains far too many hand-to-hand combat sequences that contribute to its bloated two hour and 19 minutes run time. If director Matthew Vaughn had exercised more control in this area his film could easily have been reduced to under two hours. But like many directors these days, he fell in love with the fight scenes --- hence they quickly lose their appeal.
Ergo, the best way to characterize this movie is to call it “absurd fun”, but not for the entire time. It bogs down midway to the point that Jeanne looked at her watch at least five times --- not a good sign.
The two leads, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell display very good chemistry in their roles as Elly Conway and Aidan, respectively. And the two stars are certainly engaging in their performances.
Otherwise, accomplished actors like Bryan Cranston (Ritter), Catherine O’Hara (Ruth), John Cena (Wyatt), Samuel L. Jackson (Alfred Solomon) and Henry Cavill (Argylle) lend credibility to the project. Others like Dua Lipa and Ariana DeBose have smaller parts.
ARGYLLE is not what it appears to be. Initially we see Elly Conway addressing a gathering of avid readers in a bookstore. She is the prolific author of multiple books under the singular name of “Argylle” with succeeding editions. This goes on for a while and then everything changes. It’s quite a convoluted plot written by Jason Fuchs but if you pay attention, it can make sense. That doesn’t necessarily translate to being entertaining.
Opinion: Wait for VOD