'Argylle' misses the mark with an over-stuffed plot

Henry Cavill stars in the latest big-budget action film from director Matthew Vaughn

Argylle, image from Apple TV PR
Argylle, image from Apple TV PR /
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The month of February kicked off with a bang at theaters, literally, as the new spy thriller Argylle opened in theaters. The film is a big-budget collaboration between Universal and Apple Films, coming from director Matthew Vaughn. It features a high-profile cast and fun premise, but is it any good? Let’s dive in and find out.

The film focuses on Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an author who has gained fame with a series of spy novels focused on Agent Argylle (Henry Cavill) and his team. Her latest book is another hit and she’s on the cusp of the fifth in the series, but she’s hit a snag. Her mother (Catherine O’Hara) suggests that she needs more, a better ending for the story. So, Elly decides to head out on the road to get her parents’ help finishing the book.

But things don’t go as planned. A man (Sam Rockwell) joins her on the train and suggests her life is in danger. He turns out to be a spy named Aidan, here to help her from others spies, led by a nefarious director (Bryan Cranston), who are after Elly. The reason? Because her books seem to have hit on a real-life espionage group and plan, and everyone needs to know how it turns out in order to get the upper hand.

Can Elly figure it all out? Is there more to her involvement than she previous realized? Those are all the questions this film seeks to answer.

Is Argylle any good?

We’ve seen Vaughn deliver some great action films infused with comedy and drama. He previously directed Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and The Kingsman, among others. So, seeing his involvement given the tone of the story, this figured to be a high-octane ride. And it is that at times. But this doesn’t go in directions you’re expecting.

The opening sequence, which is out of the mind of Elly the author, is a lot of fun. It features Cavill, John Cena and Dua Lipa in a high-energy action sequence. We get a lot of action sequences, but they don’t all have that same polished look. In fact, as we move through the film the plot gets overly dense and sometimes ridiculous.

The same goes for some of the big action set pieces, particularly in the third act. The look and craft are great, but it’s in service of a story that just doesn’t always work. In addition, the film feels a bit bloated. Were about 30 minutes cut out, it probably would have been a crisper presentation that would have worked better.

Overall, Argylle is a well-crafted film that has its moments, but it can’t sustain some of its early energy to make a complete production.

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