Director Matthew Vaughn started small
with the worthwhile British crime film Layer Cake (starring a pre-James
Bond Daniel Craig). He then moved on to over-the-top action films to varying
degrees of success with the Kingsman franchise and Kick-Ass. His
new film Argylle is of a similar but more comedic vein. However, the end
result largely falls short.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Elly, the
author of a wildly popular series of spy novels featuring a spy named Argylle
(Henry Cavill). While struggling to come up with a satisfactory conclusion to
the fifth novel in the series, Elly meets a real spy (Sam Rockwell) on a train
ride. He tells her that her books predicted real-life events and, as a result,
she is in grave danger. Chases, fights, and twists ensue.
Argylle is always very silly and
it's passably entertaining for about two-thrids of its running time. It has a
good cast (Bryan Cranston, Catherine O'Hara, and Samuel L. Jackson are also
featured) and there are scattered funny moments. However, the final act becomes
completely ridiculous even by the film's previously established standards for
silliness. It also drags on for what feels like an eternity (the film runs 139
minutes). The script, by Jason Fuchs, piles on twist after twist after twist.
Twists can be fun but overdoing them results in audience fatigue and
necessitates long stretches of dialogue explaining the twists.
Argylle is goofy enough that it
may attract a cult following somewhere down the road (especially if the online
rumors that Taylor Swift secretly wrote the script persists). But it proved to
be a bit too much for this reviewer.