Regarding action films and comedies, I only have one requirement for whether I enjoy the film or not. The film has to be fun. Sure, we can break it down technically, which is more important for action flicks than comedies, but even that can be forgiven if the film itself is a fun romp. If it’s exciting or makes me laugh, I can walk away satisfied and consider it a successful night at the movies. This was all I was looking for as I went into my Argylle screening, an enjoyable time for me and the rest of the audience.
We got so much more than just a fun action film, although Argylle is that too. This film, which Matthew Vaughn directs, is a multi-layered spy thriller that perfectly balances the action and humor, leaving my side hurting from laughing so much. Written by Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Wonder Woman), Argylle has a vibrant story that is rich in characters and development, such as exploring mental health issues within a fast-paced world of spies and espionage. With a star-studded cast, Argylle comes to life with Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell leading the film to something extraordinary compared to other movies in its genre.
[Warning: light spoilers and impressions from Argylle are below!]
Elly Conway is an author out of her element
Agent Argylle (Henry Cavill) is the model of the perfect super spy. He’s cool under pressure, isn’t afraid to put himself in a bad situation to get what he needs, and can get himself out of any situation, although it sometimes requires help from others in his organization. He’s also handsome to boot, except for that obnoxious haircut that looks ripped from a decade where it should have remained. Think James Bond, but with a military haircut from the 80’s. Much like Bond, he works for an organization that helps to take out criminals from around the world.
At least he did. Now he’s been burned, sought by an underground syndicate who want to take him out before he can expose them to the public. That would be bad for business, wouldn’t it? Together with his compatriots Wyatt (John Cena) and Keira (Ariana DeBose), Argylle must go to the ends of the Earth to find the truth and bring the syndicate down.
There’s just one catch… Agent Argylle is a character in Elly Conway’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) book. Well, books, as she’s written four and struggling to finish a fifth. In just under 5 years after her skating accident, Elly has put pen to paper numerous times, bringing to life the adventures of a suave agent and the shadowy organization that is wreaking havoc on the geopolitical landscape of the world.
Being an author is a safe job, right? Well, one would think, however, Elly’s life turns upside down when she meets Aidan (Sam Rockwell) on a train to visit her parents. The anxiety-riddled author doesn’t understand what’s happening when the eccentric-looking Aidan turns out to be an international super spy who came there to protect her.
Protect her from what exactly? A shadowy underground syndicate that wants to know what’s coming in her next book. Turns out that Elly’s Argylle series follows real-world events a little too closely, which has put a ton of eyes on her and has made her a target.
Thrust into a world of espionage, where danger is around every corner, Elly must learn to work with Aidan, so that she and her loveable cat Alfie can make it out alive. By the time Elly arrives on the train, Argylle is off the races and doesn’t let up, providing a satisfying conclusion and a wild journey to get there. But you’ll have to watch the film to find out just who Agent Argylle truly is.
The positives and negatives of Argylle
From the moment I saw the trailer for this film, I was enthralled. It looked incredibly fun with tons of action and a lot of laughs, which holds throughout the entire film. Argylle is hilarious, packed full of jokes that made me giggle more so than I have from any recent movie, and I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. There were moments in the film when everyone in the theater was roaring so loud with laughter that you couldn’t hear the next line of the film. At some points, I had tears streaming down my face because I couldn’t contain my pure enjoyment from what I was seeing on screen.
The transitions in this film are incredible, Editors Tom Harrison-Read and Lee Smith deserve a raise and a bonus. Some fights contain such fluid transitions that I was awestruck. I couldn’t help but just blink at the screen with my jaw open. It added a cool narrative effect, which I don’t want to spoil for those who intend to go to see the film in theaters. It also enhanced the fight sequences from standard romps to something visually breathtaking.
Argylle also has the action sequences that we’ve come to know and expect from a Matthew Vaughn film. It is very reminiscent of his film franchises Kick-Ass and Kingsman, with the action and feel being more in line with the latter. However, unlike those franchises, Argylle isn’t as gory with the violence. There are some scenes in Kingsman that I cringed watching, as the situations felt like they were glamorizing violence through the sheer amount of blood and gore. Argylle, on the other hand, keeps the violence (so many people die), but you don’t see nearly any blood or close-up shots of the violent actions.
You can tell that Apple wanted to keep this more of a family movie because there is nothing in this film that I wouldn’t watch with my adolescent children. There is suggested violence, with shots cutting away from the aftermath of what should be a horrific shot. One fight, in particular, should have been a bloodbath, but the film expertly uses smoke and color to remove the direct visual of what it would look like, which felt like a genius way to do it. This was something that even my nephew remarked on, excitedly saying that he could not wait to take his mother to see it, who doesn’t want to see a lot of blood.
Argylle feels like the perfect entry for those looking to get into the spy-thriller genre, as the film takes traditional spy tropes and makes them interesting again. Part of this has to do with the fact it infuses humor to defuse tense situations that are inherent in action films, adding levity to what could have been a bore to watch. Blending that with insanely cool-looking action sequences, and Argylle is something to behold.
The therapist in me also loved that mental health was placed at the forefront of this film as well. Elly is an introvert in every sense of the word. She pushes away people, both out of fear and her desire to remain secluded in her life with her cat. She doesn’t fly on planes because traveling that way freaks her out. Throughout the film, we see her anxiety get the better of her, causing issues for the missions and relationships.
But part of Argylle is the journey of Elly overcoming her anxiety, which is important to represent in the media. The normalization of mental health issues is a topic that I’ve been seeing more frequently. It helps make the characters more relatable as well as normalize these experiences for audience members.
Argylle also uses color in interesting ways throughout the film. There are instances where color wouldn’t normally be, where the film finds ways to bring it in. This created greater visual appeal rather than fight sequences in bland hallways or car chases through nondescript cities that no one will ever remember. This use of color shouldn’t be too shocking, though, as the promotional campaign has been one of the most colorful ones I’ve seen as of late.
There a lot of talent in this film, which helps to elevate this film. That being said, Argylle would be nothing without its two leads, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell. Howard is one of those actresses who is talented on and off the camera. I have never been disappointed by a single project that she’s done, whether it be for acting or directing. She continues this pattern of exceptional acting and filmmaking in Argylle. Elly is endearing. She, despite her anxiety and hesitation, embraces this new adventure. She’s inquisitive and resourceful, as only an author of spy novels could be.
Rockwell’s character is more of a wildcard. He’s erratic but equally endearing as his author counterpart. He’s a fantastic spy stuck in an impossible situation, who handles it with humor and a never-ending desire to do good. Rockwell blew me away as Aidan, as he appears to have so much fun in this role. I always knew that Rockwell is an incredible actor, but his role in Argylle helped cement that for me.
My only complaint for Argylle is the excessive use of slow-motion shots. I understand that the film is an attempt to poke fun at the genre and action films as a whole, but there are so many examples of slow-motion in this film, that it became tired after a bit. Maybe this is an action trope we can put to bed, and instead emphasize the positives of this genre, being a fun film.
Final thoughts on Apple Original Films’ Argylle
As I stated earlier, I was sold from the moment I saw the trailer, if not before. The mystery behind the film, as well as the novel of the same name, was intriguing. Who wrote the real-life book? Who is Elly Conway? You can’t beat a promotion like that. For lovers of novels, films, and mysteries, the entire world of Argylle is appealing, and I’m happy that the film didn’t let me down. From start to finish, I had so much fun, as I’m sure many will, when they see this film.
This movie won’t change the world, if that’s what you’re looking for. This is an above-average action film, which if you sit back and allow yourself to, you’ll love what it brings to the table. The acting and chemistry between our two stars are enough to see it, as the film is electric because of Howard and Rockwell’s sheer talent. So if you’re looking for an enjoyable movie full of excitement and great characters, you should check out Argylle this weekend!
Argylle arrives in theaters on February 2! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on seeing this film opening weekend!