The Reel Review
A reclusive spy novelist finds herself embroiled in a real-life spy caper when a crime syndicate, convinced that her eerily accurate novels have exposed their existence, tries to kidnap her. Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill and Samuel L. Jackson star in this action-adventure comedy/thriller where nothing is as it seems.
With a whopping $200 million budget, a big name cast and a screenplay from Wonder Woman scribe Jason Fuchs, Kingsman franchise creator Matthew Vaughn’s intentionally silly film is not as awful as 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle but also not nearly as charming as his original franchise installment that starred Taron Egerton and Colin Firth.
As novelist Elly Conway discovers her past, a mind-numbing array of plot twists and reveals follow – some that don’t land, some actually clever. The supporting cast includes Bryan Cranston as the criminal spy chief and Catherine O’Hara as Elly’s mother. Ariana DeBose, John Cena, and Dua Lipa have an amount of screentime equivalent to the amount of time we see of them in the film’s trailer.
Without letting the cat out of the bag, Argylle’s big twist is reminiscent of another popular decades-old spy film, and while Argylle does have some fun, action-packed moments – the train scene and the wacky skating scene, in particular – a lot of it tries too hard to be clever and some of the CGI (the cat and some fight scenes) looks disappointingly phony for such a big budget film. At two hours and 19 minutes and after a fun start, Argylle runs out of steam in its exhausting and predictable final 30 minutes.
• Argylle includes two Oscar winners – Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) – and two Oscar nominees – Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) and Bryan Cranston (Trumbo).
• Samuel L. Jackson and Sofia Boutella also appeared in the original Kingsman: The Secret Service.
• Alfie, the cat in Argylle is played by Chip, owned by Matthew Vaughn’s wife, Claudia Schiffer.