ARGYLLE

THE BIGGER THE SPY, THE WORSE THE FILM

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
1st February 2024

Movie marketing is a beast. With today's film 'Argylle', the way they are marketing the film is, let's say, interesting. Firstly, "From the Twisted Mind of Matthew Vaughn", huh! Twisted mind is the way I might describe a horror director, but the man behind 'Kingman', 'Kick-Ass' and 'X-Men: First Class', well, this is just the wrong way to describe him. It's also at the detriment of 'Argylle', a spy film not a psychological thriller. But by far I have the biggest gripe with the tagline, "Once you Know the Secret, Don't Let the Cat Out of the Bag". It seems the "Don't Spoil the Endgame" marketing from 'Avengers' has left an impact on movie marketing - and I for one, hate it. Again, this isn't some big multi-franchise cinematic event, it's an ensemble spy film; what are we doing here? The way they were trying to fit this film into a mould that just doesn't work left me with the wrong impression going in, and as a fan of 'Kingsman' I wanted to go into 'Argylle' excited to see what he was doing next - but my expectations were low.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard, 'Jurassic World' franchise, 'Rocketman') is the author of 'Arglle' (Henry Cavill, 'Man of Steel', 'Mission: Impossible – Fallout'), the new hot spy series. With her fourth book just released and ending on a cliffhanger, she is quick to work on the fifth book of the best-selling franchise. But unbeknownst to her, her books have set the spy world aflame as they are correctly predicting what's happening with an underground syndicate run by Ritter (Bryan Cranston, 'Asteroid City', 'Last Flag Flying'). She is quickly thrown into the world of her books with Aidan (Sam Rockwell, 'The Bad Guys', 'See How They Run'), a spy trying to stop the syndicate at her side, and is forced to quickly write the next book to expose what the next play is before the bad guys do it - of course, with her cat Alfie strapped to her back.

'Argylle' is a mess - everything it throws at you doesn't land, it's bland and forgettable. This cost US$200 million to make, and yet not a single cent is seen on screen from bad green screen and CGI to uninteresting action set pieces. It's just a huge missed opportunity. The film could have benefited from following 'The Lost City's' approach; a film where a romance novelist is thrown into the world of her books, but what makes that film work is that it rolls with that premise and has fun with it. 'Argylle' feels the need to constantly subvert expectations, and it truly makes this a slog to get through. Every twist was wildly predicable, and just as each one reared its ugly head it only made it so much more generic. What could have been a fun, colourful, spy film with a fun premise (hmmmm, Matthew Vaughn, remember when you did that?) is instead just a weak hollow mess that by having its focus on the twists and not the story or characters makes it a big fail.

'Argylle' is a mess - everything it throws at you doesn't land, it's bland and forgettable. This cost US$200 million to make, and yet not a single cent is seen on screen from bad green screen and CGI to uninteresting action set pieces.

While this film has a huge cast, every single member phones it in. It was so hard to connect to a single person. I hope they got paid well - and based on that budget, it seems they did. For every one thing that made me laugh, there are hundreds of other moments that made me zone out.

The film is now the third Apple Original film to get a major theatrical release before its Apple TV+ debut, after 'Killers of the Flower Moon' and 'Napoleon'. Both this and 'Killers' got an M rating in Australia but feel like they were edited down from an MA15+. 'Killers' was released on streaming as MA15+ and I can feel that might be the case with 'Argylle'. There were so many moments, especially following 'Kick-Ass' and 'Kingsman', that felt like blood had been edited out.

'Argylle' is a huge missed opportunity - there is a really fun idea here, but they take every wrong turn. With a focus on twists over story and characters that only make this blander to get through, 'Argylle' is one to miss.

Oh, and there is a mid-credits scene that made me want to pull my eyes out. I absolutely hate it here; please don't let this be a franchise.

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