Bruin Banner

Bruin Banner

Argylle: The Bigger the Cost, the Bigger the Flop

universal pictures
Argylle is the latest film by Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn

Argylle has a lot going for it: a star-studded cast including Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa, and Samuel L. Jackson; the director, Matthew Vaughn, has made some of the best action movies of the last decade; and it has an interesting concept with a lot of potential. And yet, in a lot of areas, Argylle simply misses the mark: the cast is underutilized; Vaughn’s unique style is notably dialed back; and the film ultimately fails to realize the potential of its core concept.

Argylle follows world-famous spy novelist Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), author of a book series about agent Aubrey Argylle (Henry Cavill), a larger-than-life super spy. When Conway is struggling to write the ending to her latest novel, she decides to go see her mother for help. But on the way there she meets a real spy, Aidan Wylde (Sam Rockwell), who pulls Conway into the world of international espionage and reveals that her novels weren’t as fictitious as she thought, and have actually predicted multiple events in the real world. Using Conway’s seemingly prophetic abilities and Wylde’s skills, the pair must find the evidence that can bring down the real bad guys before they can assert world dominance. 

From a technical perspective, Argylle is a competent action comedy with a fun spy-themed twist. The film has good performances, effects, and a solid score. Just about every major problem with the movie stems exclusively from the plot. From the second act onward, Conway being a writer and the prophetic nature of her books is explained away and completely abandoned in favor of a more bog-standard spy thriller story. Additionally, apart from Conway, no other characters get any development or undergo any sort of arc.

One major issue with the script is that writers never seemed to know what to do with the characters outside of the core cast. Despite featuring heavily in the marketing, most of the big names associated with the project are barely in it. Samuel L. Jackson, Dua Lipa, John Cena, and Richard E. Grant all have very minimal screen time. And then there’s agent Argylle himself.

Henry Cavill, as the eponymous super spy, is a lot of fun, but like most of the characters, he’s severely underutilized. He appears in one full scene of his own, and for the rest of the film, he appears almost entirely as hallucinations, spliced into other scenes, usually providing a single line of dialogue before disappearing. Although fine for slower dialogue-heavy scenes, and in some cases, it helps the audience get a glimpse into Conway’s head, these intrusions are incredibly obnoxious in the action scenes where his appearance does little besides interrupting the flow of the action.

Barring the random appearances of Cavill, the action in Argylle is fine, though somewhat unremarkable. Vaughn has always excelled at creating stylish dynamic fight scenes. Unfortunately however, Argylle never quite reaches the same heights as Vaughn’s Kingsman series, and the film does little to set itself apart from other action offerings.

Despite having some of the most talented people in the industry both in front of and behind the camera, and a premise that puts it in a perfect position to turn the spy genre on its head, Argyle ultimately fails to say anything unique, and simply ends up parroting many of the tropes it attempts to subvert.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jacob Hallberg, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

My name is Jacob, I’m a Junior and this is my second year on the Banner. Outside of school, I enjoy reading, writing, and watching movies.

Comments (0)

All Bruin Banner Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *