ARGYLLE Reaction – Keep The Cat In The Bag

L to R: Sam Rockwell as Aiden and Bryce Dallas Howard is Elly Conway in ARGYLLE, directed by Matthew Vaughn

With the recent Apple+/theatrical release ARGYLLE, I am somewhat baffled by Matthew Vaughan’s recent actioner. This new movie does not look or have the feeling of

The Official Pitch: 

Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World franchise) is Elly Conway, the reclusive author of a series of best-selling espionage novels, whose idea of bliss is a night at home with her computer and her cat, Alfie. But when the plots of Elly’s fictional books–which center on secret agent Argylle and his mission to unravel a global spy syndicate–begin to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organization, quiet evenings at home become a thing of the past. Accompanied by Aidan (Oscar® winner Sam Rockwell), a cat-allergic spy, Elly (carrying Alfie in her backpack) races across the world to stay one step ahead of the killers as the line between Elly’s fictional world and her real one begins to blur.

Jason’s Reaction: 

The movie opens on a James Bond-like set piece that is incredibly corny and feels like I have seen many times before. Utilizing strange visual effects and pyrotechnics This would be okay, but then it It then cuts to book writer (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is reading this section from her upcoming book at a signing. The writing itself would suggest a low rent, mainstream book that would NOT be at the level of this actual signing which makes the book seem like a #1 bestseller. This is always a frustrating thing in movies where the event seems bigger than the actual content.

What’s sad about ARGYLLE is that it slowly but surely just becomes the movie that it parodies in the opening act, and not in a good way. Once the past of Elly is revealed the movie goes entirely flat, and it also makes the critical mistake of changing the hair colour of one of the most famous redheads in the film industry. To repeat, you never, ever, EVER make Bryce Dallas Howard a blonde. Ever. 

My somewhat joking aside of Bryce Dallas Howard aside, the picture has its moments. I loved Sam Rockwell in his role as Aidan, who I can tell is having a lot of fun with the changes in his character and has a sense of humour about the whole thing. It’s almost like no matter if Rockwell is in a poor movie, he can still get away with it. A few action sequences still have that high energy that Matthew Vaughn is known for, complete with the music “needle drops” (to wildly varying results, not all of them work) as well as using vibrant colours as characters which reminded me of his way of getting around explicit violence in KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE. 

This whole movie feels like it was originally produced for Apple Originals, then at some point was decided for a theatrical release as the entire movie has this overlit, bright made-for-cable look to it complete with visual effects that would probably hold up okay in 4k/HDR, but totally broke apart in my IMAX-enhanced show. Even the cat that leads the first act of the story, that is entirely a visual effect, feels like the images break apart and yet might work better on a lazy night watching it on the streaming service instead.

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

ARGYLLE is now playing in cinemas. 

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