'Argylle' review: A crazy, over-the-top spy adventure 2
Henry Cavill in 'Argylle.' Universal Pictures International

'Argylle' review: A crazy, over-the-top spy adventure

The posters and publicity may have made viewers expect that Henry Cavill's Argylle was going to be the hero of this film.
ABS-CBN News | Feb 06 2024

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) was a mousy author of popular spy novels featuring a character named Argylle (Henry Cavill) and his team composed of Wyatt (John Cena) and Keira (Ariana deBose). One day while riding a train to go visit her mother (Catherine O'Hara), Elly met Aidan (Sam Rockwell), a fan of her books who turned out to be a real spy, rescuing her from a troop of gunmen who were out to kill her.

From its cartoonish opening sequence of Argylle chasing another agent LaGrange (Dua Lipa) through the streets of Greece, director Matthew Vaughn immediately warmed his audience up for one crazy, over-the-top spy adventure. The artificial-looking hairstyles, costumes and action stunts during this segment, which seemed to come straight out of a "Barbie" set, were in sharp contrast to the drab reality of Elly's quiet introverted life with her cat Alfie.

The posters and publicity may have made viewers expect that Henry Cavill's Argylle was going to be the hero of this film. However, from the time Aidan rescued Elly from the assassins, it became evident that they were actually the lead characters of the story, and Argylle was purely just a figment of Elly's imagination who would just show up once in a while. This disappointing misperception will somehow affect enjoyment and appreciation of the film as a whole. 

A big problem of this film for me was the casting of Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly, just as she felt awkwardly miscast in the "Jurassic World" films. As the relative straight guy, Howard drowned in the middle of a madcap bunch of actors who were more seasoned in comedy. Her dry Elly never really rose to the top as the main protagonist, even if the character underwent roller-coaster revelations. Even the cat actor Chip managed to upstage her. 

In contrast, Rockwell, Cavill, Cena, O'Hara, plus Bryan Cranston (as the main villain Ritter), and Samuel L. Jackson (as Aidan's boss Solomon) were all playing their roles with their tongues fully in cheek and were generally fun to watch. However, their talents could not really uplift and make sense of the over-twisted material they were given here. If Vaughn was aiming for another "Kick-Ass" or "Kingsman," he overshot the target this time.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."