Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Samuel Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Henry Cavill, John Cena, Dua Lipa
Director: Mathew Vaughn
Runtime: 139 min.
The premise here, about a reclusive author who writes espionage novels about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate, being forced to realize that the plot of the new book she`s writing has started to mirror real-world events, in real time, had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the treatment here is so devoid of energy that you just about manage to sit through it hoping it will all get over soon.
‘Argylle’ is visually spiffy but the engagement is lacklustre. Far more interesting-looking actors like Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa, and John Cena are mere window dressing here while the dead-eyed Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly Conway and a rather indistinct Sam Rockwell as Aidan/Wyatt, sway in and out of day-time hallucinations as the narrative plods along on its premeditated path towards self-destruction. Even the always imposing Samuel Jackson had very little to impose upon here.
The promise outweighs the experience here. Bullets may fly but the thrill is nowhere to be seen. The first act had Elly, the author, imagining her spy character Argylle( Cavill) in a fairly intriguing dramatic action spiel, then comes the elongated but unfulfilling action set-piece involving Elly and Aidan/Wyatt and finally the big ‘reveal.’ There’s way too much ridiculousness at play here and the flat tone throughout fails to lend any weight to its telling. The attempt to mine ‘Kingsman’ only makes ‘Argylle’ look poorer in comparison.
The writer Jason Fuchs and director Vaughn had the route map and directions right but failed to rev up the speed while navigating the terrain. The tone kept flagging, the action felt toonish after a point, and the lack of logic became a sore point. Spy action thrillers even when they are comedic, need kinetic energy to give the audience an adrenaline rush. This one has none. The story ( which might have worked up some interest under another director) just doesn’t take off. Even the style feels put on.
Mediocre dead-beat plotting, zero zip CGI wizardry, repetitive action, totally uninvolved performances, and a bloated runtime make Argylle imminently forgettable.
Argylle is unique in its reality-fantasy colliding story no doubt, but it`s not exactly cheeky, inventive, or furious in its action beats. The colorful character dynamics in a Kingsman-like world are never engaging. The weakening energy, lack of finesse in the craft, and unbearably flat tone kill any interest you might have going in. Argylle attempts to be a spy thriller within a spy thriller but all it achieves in being is a rather crass, painful parody of itself.