Argylle Review: A Spy Flick That Forgets Its Own Punchline
Spy flicks often tread a fine line between homage and satire, and “Argylle” emerges with the ambition to redefine the genre under the helm of Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass,” “Kingsman”) but just can’t get there. Featuring an ensemble cast including Bryce Dallas Howard, Henry Cavill, and Sam Rockwell, along with newcomers like Dua Lipa, “Argylle” tries to stay on mission by blending action and comedy with a touch of the absurd, but like a rookie agent, ends up missing its target.
The narrative orbits around Elly Conway (Howard), a reclusive spy novelist whose fiction dangerously dovetails with reality, catapulting her into the midst of a clandestine world she once only imagined. “Argylle” sets out with a vibrant energy, infused with Vaughn’s signature style of exaggerated action sequences and a penchant for the ridiculous, a characteristic that has been both a hallmark and a hurdle in his previous works. Sam Rockwell’s performance is a highlight, as he navigates a sea of ambitious, albeit convoluted, twists and turns in this cinematic, yet more spectacle than substance tale.
“Argylle” seems to stumble in its pursuit of a coherent identity, acting as a comedic spy flick that forgets its own punchline, struggling with pacing, an overburdened script, and a visual presentation that oscillates between slick and jarring. The editing and action sequences, in particular, lack the finesse expected from Vaughn, whose attempts at reinventing the spy genre fall short of their potential. Despite these critiques, the movie does find its moments of charm, notably in performances by supporting actors and the occasional successful blend of humor and espionage.
The film’s ambitious use of music, including a controversial Beatles track, adds to its eclectic tone, though not always to its benefit. While aiming to elevate the action with these musical interludes, “Argylle” simply leverages nostalgia over narrative cohesion, weaving a complex web of twists and character arcs, often leading to a convoluted plot that challenges viewers’ engagement rather than enhancing it.
“Argylle” represents a mixed bag of Vaughn’s filmmaking tendencies, oscillating between brilliance and bafflement. While it showcases moments of genuine fun and spectacle, the movie ultimately struggles to find a steady footing amidst its own ambitious twists and stylistic flourishes. It’s a cinematic endeavor that, despite its flaws, might still find an audience among those who appreciate its blend of espionage, comedy, and outright extravagance. However, as a reimagining of the spy genre, “Argylle” falls short of delivering a fully cohesive or revolutionary narrative. The film, much like its protagonist, finds itself caught between the realms of fiction and reality, navigating the murky waters of identity within the spy genre. This cinematic outing may not redefine spy thrillers, but it undeniably adds a unique, if somewhat disjointed, chapter to the genre’s expansive anthology.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5.0
Argylle is now playing in theaters as of February 2nd, 2024.