The greater the spy, the bigger the lie.
Argylle is a 2024 spy comedy film directed by Matthew Vaughn, written by Jason Fuchs, produced by Apple Studios, Marv Studios, and Cloudy Productions, and distributed by Universal Pictures and Apple Original Films. It stars Bryce Dalls Howard and Sam Rockwell.
"It's time for you to meet the real Agent Argylle." - Alfred Solomon
Espionage author Elly Conway has just published the fourth novel in her wildly successful spy series, Argylle. But when a mysterious man shows up on a train claiming that the events in her books are happening in real life, Elly is thrust into a crazy global chase where she is pursued by a very real, very dangerous spy agency.
Matthew Vaughn is one of the most underrated directors working today. I haven't seen any of the Kingsman or Kick-Ass movies, but I've only heard positive things, and X-Men: First Class is my favorite X-Men movie, so I was interested in Argylle as soon as I heard about it.
I went in with moderately low expectations, and this movie absolutely blew my mind.
The first and most important thing about Argylle is Matthew Vaughn. He has this colorful 60s spy aesthetic that he brings to all of his movies, and that is very much present in this film. It is directed wonderfully, with a perfect balance between action, comedy, and thrills. The movie is dealing with this global chase and these big spy organizations, but it manages to keep this light, funny tone that doesn't feel out of place despite the fact that people are getting killed left and right. It has so much going on, but it manages to balance all of this craziness very well.
This movie also has multiple insane plot twists. It felt like every fifteen to twenty minutes, there was some new reveal that reframed the entire narrative. Every time you think you've got the movie figured out, it pulls the rug out from underneath you and gives you some new piece of information that blows your mind. Avoid spoilers for this film at all costs. It is super unpredictable and gets crazy with where it goes.
I also loved the cast of this film. The weakest link was actually Bryce Dallas Howard - she was fine, but the rest of the cast was really fun. This movie just fills out its cast with a fantastic group of actors, a lot of whom don't pop up very often. Sam Rockwell is great. Seeing both Bryan Cranston and Catherine O'Hara is always tons of fun. Watching Henry Cavill do something outside of Superman was enjoyable. I thought the casting in this film was great. It just makes it all the more watchable and entertaining.
I also love that this film does something different with the spy genre. Spy movies are dominated by James Bond and Ethan Hunt. Almost every other spy movie that isn't 007 or Mission: Impossible is just a generic rip-off of one of those two. Argylle is different. Like I said, the wacky, fun tone combined with these crazy plot twists just makes this movie incredibly fun and different.
One thing I really wanted to shout out was the editing in this film. Early on, there's a scene in which Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell are in a park and the film keeps cutting between them, Henry Cavill and John Cena, and then Bryan Cranston. The scene was edited incredibly, and the whole movie is kind of like that. They have these cool editing techniques to switch between the reality of Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell with the fantasy of Henry Cavill and John Cena.
I think the best way to describe this movie is like the Scream of spy movies. It has this almost meta aspect to it where it leans into all of the spy movie tropes, but it does it in this fun, creative way. It's incredibly funny at times while also delivering the experience of a spy movie. I had a blast with it.
Oh, and there is a mid-credits scene. Stick around for it. It's definitely worth watching.
There are definitely a few problems with this movie. And most of them come in the third act.
First off, I think the third act kind of gets to be a little bit too much. It feels like the film wanted to be so clever that everything needed to be some sort of plot twist and reveal, so in the third act, there's some new reveal almost every two minutes. That gets to be too much. It starts to become too untrustworthy, where you just don't believe any information that you are learning because you know a plot twist is coming.
I also think that the movie is too long. The third act drags along for way too much time. There's a point at which you think you are entering the third act and the final battle...but no, the third act and final battle actually come, like, twenty minutes later. Then there's a point in the third act and final battle where the main villain is defeated...and there's still seven or eight minutes left in the finale. It just feels like it needs to drag everything out, and so it loses a bit of the charm and fun near the end.
Like I said before, this movie leans into the spy tropes and almost makes fun of them throughout...until the third act. By the time you reach the final battle, it basically stops being creative with the spy genre and just becomes a regular spy movie, which I found to be slightly disappointing.
This wasn't necessarily a negative for me personally, but if you are expecting this big spy film starring Henry Cavill and John Cena, that is not what this is. Henry Cavill's character serves a purpose within the story, but he does not have a lot of screentime. The main character in this film is Bryce Dallas Howard. Not Henry Cavill.
Finally, I don't think Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell had good chemistry, which is a shame, because they are the main relationship we are invested in. I actually thought early on, they were pretty good together, but as there are more reveals and more craziness comes about, their back-and-forth just becomes vanilla and boring.
Final Thoughts and Score
Argylle is an absolute blast. There is not a second of this movie that I found to be boring. It gets a little bit muddled in the third act, but otherwise, this is a must-see for comedy and spy fans alike.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 9.5/10
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Rated PG-13 for moderate violence and action, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
Released on February 2, 2024
2 hours and 19 minutes
Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly Conway
Sam Rockwell as Aidan Wilde
Henry Cavill as Agent Argylle
Bryan Cranston as Ritter
Catherine O'Hara as Ruth
John Cena as Wyatt
Dua Lipa as LeGrange
Ariana DeBose as Keira
Samuel L. Jackson as Alfred Solomon
Sofia Boutella as Saba Al-Badr
Richard E. Grant as Fowler