Film review: Argylle

From the mind of reclusive best-selling author Elly Conway, fact and fiction begin to blur when her spy stories may be more than just her imagination.

From brilliantly eccentric “Kingsman” director and producer Matthew Vaughn and writer Jason Fuchs, MARV Studios and Apple TV+ bring us the first of a potential new trilogy of Agent Argylle films. However, what we are delivered is an initially slick film, whose threads begin to unfortunately unravel and disintegrate as the film progresses.

Set in the current day, the action begins under the blue skies of Greece with Agent Aubrey Argylle, played by the suave Henry Cavill, coming up against Dua Lipa’s fierce female weapons-wielding character LaGrange, as he endeavours to expose the global spy syndicate and blow it out of the water. With an over-the-top colourful start, the initial action is non-stop until we realise it’s all coming from the mind of the star and successful writer of the Argylle novels, Elly Conway, played by Bryce Dallas Howard – daughter of director Ron Howard.

Shy and retiring and living in an idyllic log cabin miles from the nearest civilization, Elly finishes her fifth novel overnight under the loving gaze of her only real companion, Alfie, the adorable Scottish ear fold cat. But with her fiercest critic – her mother – she realizes her just-finished book’s cliffhanger isn’t enough and requires her to visit her parents in London for just one last chapter. So far so good.

Also starring the always on-form Sam Rockwell as Aiden Wilde, the meeting on the train throws us quickly again into the action and a superb partnership that works extremely well as the dialogue snappily bounces back and forth as Elly’s world bursts between what is real and what is from her mind. Filmed and also set in Greece, London, and the USA, the concept is high drama and intense colour as the slightly overly long film unravels its plot before our very eyes in both good and unfortunately bad ways.


Also starring an underused Samuel L. Jackson as Alfred ‘Alfie – cool cat’ Solomon, with his role to fill in the mind gaps of Elly’s unknown past. The camerawork and sets are stunning, especially one gorgeous use of coloured gas in the last act and an oil skating sequence, artistically used to bring the whole over-the-top story together.

The fabulous all-star cast keeps rolling in, with Bryan Cranston as the devious Ritter and Catherine O’Hara as Ruth Conway, Elly’s mother. The performers do their best to keep the complicated interwoven narrative afloat, but don’t really succeed. With the slick ride through the countries and the story within the story, it’s best to just ‘trust fall’ into the premise and lose yourself in the imagination and spectacle.

One song to feature in the soundtrack, is the last of the Beatles releases “Now and Then”. With an apparent gap in the track list, Vaughn required a ‘sad yet hopeful’ song and was played this at Apple Studios by Giles Martin at the end of 2022 before its official release and fell in love straight away. His words, ‘It was as if Lennon had watched the film and written the track for him.’

Argylle has split the critics down the middle with one side loving the story and spectacle and the other complaining of the overuse of too many twists and turns. For me, the majority was beautifully shot and so promising, but sadly let down by a poor conclusion. With the next film to be set around 50 years before this and trailered mid-credits, the current character creation for now will sadly be forgotten, but will be intertwined with Kingsman in the not-too-distant future.

Go for the ride and dive deep into the primary-coloured mind of Matthew Vaughn. This is only the beginning. Bring on Book 1!





Author: Piers, Maidstone Store

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