Argylle creates a successful mix of comedy, action, and twists while taking the audience on an adventure not even Elly Conway herself could have predicted.
I have been looking forward to Argylle ever since the trailer first came out. With a celebrity-staked cast, promising action sequences, and a fascinating premise, Matthew Vaughn’s new film promised to be an instant action classic. Of course, the speculations around the real author behind the unpublished Argylle book that allegedly inspired the script only added to the real-life mystery behind the film. With some fans rumouring about Elly Conway’s real identity being Taylor Swift, my interest in the film only grew. Visiting the Argylle Experience in London earlier this month made me even more excited to watch the movie – and all the props and costumes I got to see in real life – on the big screen.
Argylle follows its main character Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an introverted spy novelist who ends up in what very much seems like a scenario from her best-selling books. Elly rarely leaves her home or her cat Alfie (Chip). Instead, she spends time in her study and writes extremely popular espionage novels about the titular Argylle (Henry Cavill), a secret agent who is determined to unravel a global spy syndicate. When she meets Aidan (Sam Rockwell), the line between fiction and reality becomes blurred as Elly’s life starts resembling the plot of her very own novels and she becomes involved in a real-life spy organization.
Sam Rockwell and Bryce Dallas Howard are the leads amongst a star-packed cast of A-listers made up of the likes of John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, and last but not least Chip, the Scottish Fold cat portraying Alfie, Elly’s beloved cat. The acting is particularly impressive in Argylle, particularly from the leads who are able to portray their respective characters in all their nuances, making every new revelation believable and keeping the audience wanting for more. The entire cast was also able to achieve a successful balance between tension and jokes, maintaining the funny tone of the film with excellent comedic timing.
I like how the film does not take itself too seriously. The movie does what it sets out to do well, with a big budget, impressive stunt work, and brilliant acting, but its main objective is to entertain the audience: so what if some of its plot is implausible? This is part of the charm of the film. Once you understand the tone of Argylle and lean into its surreal absurdity, you will be able to enjoy the film in all its twists and turns and laugh out loud at its jokes.
Argylle also delivers its stakes successfully from the very first scene. As the film goes on, the audience follows different planes of action, which helps build the tension, that will eventually all come together in the second part of the movie. The film creates a suspenseful atmosphere until the very last scene with new dangers behind every corner that make us genuinely believe all is lost for the good guys. The upbeat soundtrack by Lorne Balfe also helps create tension but it also often serves the comedy elements. I really liked the use of music in Argylle, the way the songs and dance sequences are introduced in the story is clever and funny. In this sense, “Electric Energy” particularly stands out in the soundtrack and fits well with the overall tone of the movie.
I thought the film was very well-paced overall but by the third act, Argylle is definitely too long. Some of the action scenes, particularly in the second half of the film, are stretched out too much. While this gives the audience all the time in the world to appreciate the amazing stunt job in Argylle, it does not work in the long run. By the end, the film gets a little too repetitive for my liking, making some of its final twists more underwhelming than what I would have hoped for in the last act of the movie.
Argylle may not be the most memorable film of the year but it is a fun watch that fans of the genre will certainly enjoy. Despite some overly long sequences, the film did keep me on the edge of my seat throughout its entire run with every twist and turn as I waited for it to answer the most important question of all: who is the real agent Argylle? Don’t worry, I will not let the cat out of the bag – Argylle’s secret is safe with me – but let it be known, my prediction was right all along.
Argylle will have a global theatrical release on February 2, 2024 and then be available to stream on Apple TV+ at a later date.