MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Argylle’ lacks creative punch

Published 9:44 am Monday, February 12, 2024

It might be time to have a discussion about director Matthew Vaughn.

His career got off to a promising start with several action films, including “Layer Cake,” “The Kingsmen” and “Kick-Ass,” but it feels as if Vaughn has been spinning his wheels as of late with “The Kingsmen” turning into a somewhat profitable franchise for the filmmaker.

“Argylle” arrives as essentially more of the same, disguised as something original. It’s an overstuffed action flick that really feels the weight of its massive 139 minute run time – hindered by a story that grows more uninteresting with every plot twist.

In “Argylle,” Bryce Dallas Howard plays Elly, a reclusive writer who has just finished the fifth book in her popular series about a spy named Argylle.

While on a train to visit her family, Elly is saved from an ambush by a real-life spy named Aiden (Sam Rockwell). He then informs Elly that her novel series has drawn the attention of a secret spy organization because her novels have mirrored actual events – even predicting the future.

At first, Elly is reluctant to believe Aiden, but as more and more people keep targeting her, the more she realizes that she is really in danger – with Aiden perhaps the only person capable of helping her find out who is targeting her.

“Argylle” is a film that takes many twists and turns, with some major developments that the studio has asked to keep a secret for the audience. That creates a big problem when discussing the film because a lot of what doesn’t work involves these secrets.

Some of the plot twists only make it obvious that certain cast members are completely miscast, while Jason Fuchs’ screenplay seems more intent on piling up those plot twists (much of which are rather easy to see coming and pretty eye-rolling) instead of actually creating characters the audience can invest in.

The film features a loaded cast that includes Henry Cavill, Bryan Cranston, Ariana DeBose and Samuel L. Jackson, but this cast is mostly wasted with only Rockwell given much time to truly shine.

Then there is Vaughn’s direction, which is more of that the same frenetically paced mayhem that has become a staple in his recent films. These sequences that should be the highlights of the film quickly become repetitive, with some creative decisions that only distract from the action.

“Argylle” is one giant cinematic mess, an action film that completely misfires from start to finish. Perhaps it is time Vaughn tries something new. A romantic comedy perhaps?

Rating: D.  Reviewed by Micheal Compton, Bowling Green Daily News