Argylle Movie Review
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Every now and then a movie comes around and makes you proclaim, “Holy hell, what did I just watch?!” Sometimes it’s because a movie is so good and so different it blows your mind – recent releases Saltburn and The Poor Things fall in that category. And then there’s a film like Argylle, a film so incredibly stupid it makes you question how it got greenlit and made it to the big screen. Heck, Argylle is a film that makes you question whether Hollywood was better on strike. Yup, it’s that bad. Razzy bad. So bad that even Taylor Swift can’t save it.
Adapted from a reported not-yet-published book by Elly Conway, a rumored pseudonym for Taylor Swift, Argylle follows author Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) as her words jump off the page into real life, thrusting her into the ride of a lifetime. Conway (the character in the movie not the reported author of this shlock) rose to fame with her books about Agent Argylle, a movie star handsome, buff agent who traverses the country with his team attempting to take down the evil Directorate. Argylle is her life. So much so that she far too often pictures her characters in her every day life. Portrayed as your stereotypical author, Conway is a shut-in who lives alone and considers a night home with her cat Alfie a hot date. She avoids dating and outside of book talks, appears to avoid interaction with anyone in the outside world. So you can imagine her surprise and horror when a train ride home to see her family turns into a near assassination attempt on her life. It’s there that she meets Aidan (Sam Rockwell), a man who saves her from a gang of terrorists, and explains to her that everything she has written up to this point, and will write in the future, comes to life. With four books under her belt and the fifth just about wrapped up, the bad guys don’t want her to write how their evil plan is thwarted.
I’d share more about Conway and Aidan’s attempts to outsmart the Division (the Directorate come to life), but the movie is so stupidly confusing that it isn’t worth destroying your brain with the details. Often when a movie is confusing, I’d even recommend seeing it for yourself (e.g. Inception and Memento) but I like you and wouldn’t put you through that torture. Even IMDB doesn’t remember the names of the characters in this extremely poor James Bond knock-off.
Director Matt Vaughn who made a name for himself with the stylish, cleverly written, and extremely fun Kick-Ass and The Kings Man attempts to recreate that magic here but fails at every point along the way save for Henry Cavill and John Cena’s few scenes as the characters inside Conway’s books and a visually delicious fight with colored gas. Previous to the release of Argylle, Vaughn spoke about how this film would reinvent the spy genre and of his desire to turn this into a franchise with both sequels and prequels, but after seeing what he’s come up with here, the man will be lucky to find someone willing to back a movie by him that has anything to do with spies. With a reported $200M price tag, it makes you wonder what this money went to because it certainly wasn’t towards a strong script or effective CGI.
Argylle‘s biggest misstep is how it squanders its star-studded cast. As talented an actor as Sam Rockwell is, he’s completely miscast as an agent and a love interest. Sure, they wanted to throw someone in who wasn’t a heartthrob, but at least they could have cast someone with stronger chemistry with his lead actress. Antoine Lavoisier is rolling over in his grave from the lack of chemistry between Rockwell and Howard. It’s almost as if the two never screen tested against one another. Samuel L. Jackson shows up in a small role, but everything that makes Jackson great is absent from the film. And Bryan Cranston, so incredible as Walter White in Breaking Bad misfires as the head of the Division. But don’t blame the actors, blame screenwriter Jason Fuchs.
If there is one word to sum up Argylle it’s bloated: bloated script, bloated run time, bloated cast. If only Agent Argylle could have saved this movie from ever being made.