Review ‘Argylle’

Who is Agent Argylle? Fans of the Kingsman franchise have a big reason to hit theaters this weekend now that Director Matthew Vaughn is back with another spy caper. Only this time, these secret agents aren’t wearing Oxfords or Brogues.

Argylle follows Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) who essentially plays the Sarah J. Maas of spy novels. Conway is reluctantly roped into a real life spy mission once her latest work of fiction predicts the plot of the CIA’s greatest enemy: The Division. Conway is a mousy ball of anxiety traveling with her furry cat Alfie and struggling to decide how to write the final chapter of her successful series entitled Argylle. On her way to visit her mother, she’s intercepted by a real spy named Aiden Wilde, played eccentrically by the legendary Sam Rockwell.

The movie itself is outrageous and seriously unserious. This is not a film for people who point at the incredulous and say “That would never happen in real life!” This movie is for audiences who go to the theater to escape, to be enveloped by a larger than life story and to have fun; not be a harsh critic. This feels like the movie Vaughn has always wanted to make but didn’t have the freedom to until securing the last few blockbusters under his belt. Argyle is colourful and bursting with twists and reveals. There’s a lot to be said about Howard’s performance, which is nuanced and versatile. An obvious introvert placed in a horrifically dangerous situation, watching Elly Conway embark on a spy mission is hilarious and the central comedic element of the film. Watching her find her own confidence and identity amongst the best spies in the world is satisfying and endearing, but only if you understand the aim of the movie.

Which leads me to my next point: this is not a film for people who don’t like Matthew Vaughn. Argylle is a parody of spy movies while also striving to be a spy movie. The fight sequences are shot in Vaughn’s trademark style but this time include campier elements that are delightfully unrealistic. One of the things he’s most known for is his grandiose choreography and attention to detail. This is ever present in his latest film, while putting a fun twist on each fight sequence by splicing footage of Henry Cavill’s Agrylle and Rockwell’s Wilde together. Although this movie doesn’t exactly warrant a second watch, it’s a wild ride and a bold spectacle bursting with iconic cameos from industry legends like Samuel L. Jackson and John Cena. The first half of the film is fresh and exciting, catering towards writers in a way that joyfully plucks them from behind their cozy desks and into the action of their own suspenseful stories. This element is incredibly fun and pulls a lot from similar classics like Romancing the Stone. Dua Lipa’s acting debut is actually quite impressive, as she manages to play alongside Cavill effortlessly. However, besides Rockwell’s heartwarming performance as Agent Wilde… the standout of this film is certainly Alfie the Cat.

All in all, Argylle is delightfully preposterous and singular amongst this year’s slate. The fun this cast and crew had while making the movie plays through the screen and often feels contagious. Although it heads in a direction audiences may or may not anticipate, there is a post-credits scene that leaves our favourite spy agency open to telling more stories like this in the future.

Watch the trailer for Argylle below

Universal Pictures releases Argylle in theatres on Friday, Feb 2nd, 2024

[Review by guest blogger Jurgen Sosa]