Starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell
Argylle, an entertaining but frustrating action-comedy from Matthew Vaughn, stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly Conway, a bestselling spy author who must go on the run after her latest novel stumbles upon a real conspiracy.
Howard shifts from pathetic to plucky to badass as Elly, and her secret agent protector Aidan (Sam Rockwell) is an easygoing yet deadly figure without being too quippy. Sadly, Howard and Rockwell have little chemistry together.
The film is beautifully-shot, and the plot has some clever, well-paced reveals and plays creatively with the unexpected merging of fact and fiction in Elly’s life (although the heavy use of Macguffins, with one leading to another, is aggravating).
Like Ghosted, another spy-centric Apple-produced action-comedy, Argylle hogs the good action for the third act. Argylle’s third act has a couple of stunning sequences, including a balletic brawl evocative of Birds of Prey using colourful smoke bombs, but the action beforehand (save for a bonkers chase in the Greek countryside) is unmemorable and choppier than director Matthew Vaughn’s usual output.
The action is also distractingly bloodless; even in a fun fight involving knives and ice-skating, there is barely a drop of blood.
At the risk of giving too much away, Argylle feels like a knock-off of the 1996 Geena Davis thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight, but with less interesting characters and worse action (both films feature Samuel L. Jackson, by the way).
It’s also strange how Argylle attempts to draw nostalgia from the new Beatles song Now And Then (even building some of the score from the song), when this song came out less than a year ago.
Fun, charming and ending on an explosive high-note, yet an inferior echo of a better nineties action-thriller, Argylle is playing in most Victorian cinemas.
-Seth Lukas Hynes