Production Companies: Apple Original Films, Marv Studios, Cloudy Productions
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Producers: Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, David Reid, Jason Fuchs
Scriptwriter: Jason Fuchs
Main Cast: Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Bryce Dallas Howard
Release Date: 1st February 2023 (UK)
Running Time: 139 minutes
Bare with me through this analogy but have you ever had a friend make you an incredibly nice meal or food? Now imagine that upon hearing this they start making more and more of said food until you can’t take anymore but they just keep making it in spite of this. That very long winded metaphor roughly sums up Matthew Vaughn’s latest spy thriller: Argylle. Despite the ludicrously stacked cast, Vaughn proves that raw talent is no match for a weird and convoluted script with more twists than a duck’s corkscrew genitals. So, with at least two more Argylle films, another Kingsman and a Kick Ass reboot coming to the Matthew Vaughn-Verse, let’s examine his latest take on the spy genre.
Argylle follows writer Elly Conway (Dallas Howard) as she writes about the fictional exploits of super spy Argylle (Cavill). However, soon after life begins to mirror art as she is hunted by a mysterious organisation called the Division who seem to think her novels predict their future. Along with real spy, Aidan (Rockwell), Elly must foil the Division’s attempts to use her to find the generic macguffin: The Masterkey. Along this journey, Elly slowly realises just how similar her journey is to that of Argylle, which is very subtly hinted at in the convoluted origin story.
Too many twists make a bad script
Now, I don’t hate Argylle. However it really is a perfect example of why so many of Vaughn’s recent films haven’t been nearly as well received: they just try to be too clever. Nowhere is this more evident than the fact there’s so many unnecessary twists. For example like the fact Argylle is actually real. Or Elly used to be in the Division as her real name is Rachel Kylle. Which means the novels are actually her repressed memories. I think we’ve found a stupider plot point than the magic headshot healing gel in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Maybe this would have been better if all of Vaughn’s recent films have just bled into each other. As all of them attempting to satirise the spy genre but with more and more diminishing returns. It probably doesn’t also help that the script nearly collapses in on itself from the sheer amount of ‘twists’. Unfortunately all this proves the boy who cried wolf. In that if you keep pulling more and more mediocre twists, the audience are eventually going to zone out.
Argylle’s Problems with Runtime
Again, from a technical perspective there’s nothing too wrong with Argylle with Vaughn once again proving he can still direct great action and fight scenes. However, the aforementioned excess is proven in the runtime with a monstrous 2 hours and 19 minutes. And for what is effectively a slightly better film than the Golden Circle or The King’s Man. That pressure to meet the runtime and sustain audience attention is seen with Vaughn throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the script just to pop a shock twist reaction from the audience.
Unfortunately, at least for me, it got old very quickly as it became clear all this was being done to shock the audience into staying invested in the film. Unfortunately, this just proves Argylle as an example of too many A-List actors ruining the film or too many cooks ruining the broth. What a shame for a film with such potential….
To summarise Argylle, this is a film which in spite of its terrible script and over reliance on shock twists still has some highlights. But these are often just actors doing something funny, like Henry Cavill, without really using the script. And if this was supposed to be Vaughn’s bond audition it’s safe to say Barbara Broccoli isn’t going to be picking up that phone….
Overall Rating: 5.5/10 – Above Average
Target Audience: 12+
Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Moderate Violence and Gore, Mild Profanity, Mild Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Mild Frightening and Intense Scenes