Posted on February 18, 2024 at 5:33 pmB-
|Lowest Recommended Age:
|Rated PG-13 for strong violence and action and some strong language
|Some strong language
|Extended action-style peril, characters injured and killed
Review by guest critic Danielle Mathias with many thanks.
Matthew Vaughn has a knack for cheeky yet surprising action movies. If we didn’t find that out from the Kingsman franchise, his new movie Argylle is surely one for the books. This time around, his quintessential and clueless leading character who is dropped into a world of spies is Elly Conway, played expertly by Bryce Dallas Howard. Elly is a successful writer of a spy series, Argylle, and when she’s stumped for a proper ending to her latest book, she takes off with her beloved cat, Alfie, to spend time with her mother and writing partner (Catherine O’Hara).
Does Elly ever make it to her mom’s? Of course not! On her train ride she meets a fan who happens to be a spy who happens to be there to save her life. Aidan (Sam Rockwell) swiftly awakens Elly to the world she’s always written about, but didn’t know existed–even though the players in this world knew all about her. Not only are her books accurate, they are verbatim what is happening in a real off the books spy operation that mirrors her fictional one. The powers that be are not best pleased that this new book hasn’t clued them into the goings on in the real world. Elly stopped her story as Agent Argylle was meeting a man about a master file, a file that could bring down the very organization he defected from. The master file, as you may have guessed, is the “McGuffin” everyone is always after in an action flick. Between the code decrypting and secret identities, Argylle takes us on a journey to find out who Elly really is and what she has hidden, even from herself, because it may be the key to everything.
Howard is a charming, awkward protagonist who is our conduit into the world; she’s just as lost as we are and as she learns we do, too. Playing opposite her is Sam Rockwell, who brings a structure and levity to the situation that is always needed. He is our benevolent guide in a story where no one can be trusted and he plays the sarcastic rogue well. The two play off of each other easily, if not cheesily. The all star supporting cast includes Catherine O’Hara, Brian Cranston, Samuel L Jackson, Arianna Debose, John Cena and a quick cameo from pop star and sometimes actress Dua Lipa and each brings their own distinct flavor of comedy no matter how long they’re on screen. Henry Cavill was as charming as ever in a role that was made for him. Though he isn’t as central or present as the promotion suggests, Cavill steals the screen when he is present.
Argylle has everything a Vaughn action movie needs, and, unusual for him, a toned-down PG-13 rating. It has a relatable lead, multiple techsavvy somebodies, well choreographed and complicated fight sequences, and absolutely absurd plot twists. While the CGI usage was a bit heavy handed and the absurdity took a turn for the worse toward the end, all in all, “Argylle” is a distinctly fun time with a surprisingly twist-filled plot and mind-bending fight scenes. And, as in any Vaughn film, there is a levity and a self awareness that many action movies lack, but sorely need.