Argylle | Review by: Amanda Guarragi
The action spy thriller has come a long way since the early days of 007. Since then, we’ve had Mission: Impossible, John Wick and Kingsman. These franchises have developed their unique style to keep audiences glued to the characters and action on screen. Some prefer one franchise to the other, and it’s because it comes down to the director's style. Director Matthew Vaughn has an eye for action. He orchestrates unique sequences that highlight the strengths of his characters. From Kick-Ass to X-Men: First Class to Kingsman: The Secret Service, Vaughan has consistently grown as an action director. The use of swift camera movements, quick cuts, obscure weaponry combinations and incredible sound design combined made for pivotal moments in his films. Once Vaughn settled into the espionage with the Oxford-esque Kingsman: The Secret Service, it seemed he found the perfect balance of camp and bloody, violent action scenes. For many Kingsman fans heading into his latest spy thriller, Argylle, there were high expectations because of how attached we are to the franchise.
At first, the premise for Argylle is quite interesting, and the screenplay by Jason Fuchs did have potential. The film is about Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), a reclusive author writing espionage novels about a secret agent. Conway has written four books that have mirrored real-world events, and now she is attempting to finish her fifth book, The Global Spy Syndicate After Her. They believe she has the power to foresee actual events. And they are hoping she will lead them to a ledger with codes. Once Conway steps out and seeks help from her mother to finish the final chapters because she’s stuck, she meets an actual spy on the train named Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell). This is where the Vaughan magic comes in because the first action sequence on the train was intricate and explored the duality of who Agent Argylle was to Conway. The editing in this first sequence was well done because of the change in spies while fighting. The quick cuts and playfulness of the camera through Conway’s perspective were unique and made the audience understand who Argylle was. However, this was the only action sequence that stood out and complimented the premise.
To be able to get into the mind of Conway through her writing and having that translate to the real world was something Vaughn could have expanded upon visually. Instead, the script went downhill towards the middle with the first reveal. The first half had such promise because of that one action scene and the chemistry between Howard and Rockwell. It’s almost as if Fuchs needed to over-explain and oversimplify the espionage so audiences could understand it. Meanwhile, it was very straightforward in the end. No amount of flashy colours, repetitive action scenes, or star power could mask the fact that they did not know the story they wanted to tell. The second half was a struggle to sit through because of the internal battle Conway’s character goes through. Howard deserved a better script because they didn’t do justice to her character. Thankfully, they cast Sam Rockwell for simply being his cooky, charming self and was the star that made it entertaining. Even though Howard is the central focus, she has no character development and is a very cheap cop-out for an espionage story. As the film goes on, you lose interest because of the exposition dump in every scene.
When it comes to spy thrillers, the audience wants to feel as intelligent as the characters on screen because it makes it a more believable mission. Whether you’re with James Bond, Ethan Hunt or John Wick, the audience is always on their level. Vaughn and Fuchs dumbed down this screenplay to the point where Agent Argylle's reveal genuinely upset audiences because of how basic it was. The second half of this film spirals to a low point, and it’s thirty minutes too long. Vaughn did not evenly distribute the action sequences, and he kept all the flashy ones for the third act. It felt like a dog pile of skillsets for Agent Argylle, and it became exhausting towards the end. This film suffered from not having an R-rating because Vaughn had to reconstruct certain action scenes that would have benefitted from showing more violence. Because of this, the action scenes felt very repetitive until the third act. It felt like a Vaughn film but a watered-down version of it. It’s frustrating because the premise had the potential for this to be a unique film, and it fell flat to the point that they under-utilized certain characters.
Argylle is a film directed by Matthew Vaughn that has his flare but not his heart. Jason Fuchs’s screenplay was underdeveloped and could have been better if there had been some excess cut out. They got lost in the reveals for shock value rather than telling a compelling story for Elly Conway. To have Henry Cavill and John Cena as partners and underuse them when they had good chemistry was a bad call. And after watching this, there’s a piece of many of us who want to see that film. Catherine O’Hara and Bryan Cranston were fun in their respective roles. But again, their characters lost all meaning because of the shock value. There are two good movies lost in here. And, unfortunately, we won’t see either one come to fruition. To further complicate things for Vaughn, there is a connection to the Kingsman franchise that was such a desperate reach. While watching this film, you’ll wonder why the third Kingsman film with Taron Egerton wasn’t released instead of this brand-new spy thriller. A connective world within the Kingsman universe was strong enough on its own.
Review by: Amanda Guarragi
#movies #films #moviereviews #filmreviews #1stReviews #SamRockwell #BryceDallasHoward #MatthewVaughn #JasonFuchs #AppleTVPlus #HenryCavill #SamuelLJackson #DuaLipa #ArianaDeBose #JohnCena #CatherineOHara #BryanCranston #filmcritic