Have you ever seen $200 million dollars flushed down the toilet? Look no further, “Argylle” is a big budget stinker of epic proportions that makes a cast of A-list actors look like they only belong on daytime network TV. Billed as an espionage action thriller, the story is pure farfetched nonsense that couldn’t entertain a cat even if it had a laser pointer strapped to a ball of yarn layered in catnip.
As an author of a series of cheesy spy novels, Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) is consumed with her work to the point she sees her main character, Agent Argylle (Henry Cavill), as clearly as if he was real. Much to her surprise, Elly is suddenly thrust into the very high stakes game of espionage she writes about, learning that the events in her books have come true. Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell) is a spy tasked with protecting the novelist from an evil agency looking to get their hands on the information she seems to have before anyone else.
Chased from Colorado to England with her cat stowed in a backpack, Elly struggles to discern what is real and who to trust, turning to her mother Ruth (Catherine O’Hara) for guidance. She ends up with more questions and confusion, realizing that her whole world is not as it seems. The answers seem to lay trapped in her own brain, and she must unlock them before it’s too late.
Viewers are made aware as soon as it starts that “Argylle” is not a good movie, and it unfortunately gets much worse. To put it mildly, this is the worst film of director Matthew Vaughn’s career. The English director, who had previous success with films like “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class,” puts together a schizophrenic, outlandish compilation of scenes with stereotypical caricatures and tries to pass it off as entertainment. He attempts putting in plot twist after plot twist to make the story seem smarter and more complex, but they become so predictable that they just drag the movie out, making it feel like a four-hour production. It almost seems like he tried to emulate “Zoolander” minus the comedy, leaving brainless idiocy in its wake that insults the audience’s intelligence.
Vaughn is careless and sloppy with his filmmaking approach, failing to provide a single measure of believability. For instance, there’s a scene in which the main character shoves a knife on the bottom of each shoe and then proceeds to skate like a professional figure skater on a puddle of crude oil as if it was firm ice. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s another scene in which the spies throw multi-colored gas grenades down a hall and proceed to dance in the rainbow haze while killing everyone in sight. Compounding the numerous issues is head shakingly poor visual effects and an over produced musical score (probably to drown out the audiences’ curses). Not even a highly talented cast could counteract the level of schlock Vaughn produced.
The star of film is Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”), and she does a decent job early on portraying the clueless, hapless novelist in distress. Her performance unravels, however, when her role evolves into more of an action star. She does not have the range to pull that off believably and looks clearly in over her head.
Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) is one of the better actors in the business and is the only bright spot of this horrid production. He’s the only one of the cast who doesn’t come across as a one-dimensional stereotype, using a nonchalant, casual demeanor that makes his character more convincing and appealing.
The rest of the cast does nothing to overcome the simplistic writing. Henry Cavill is as stiff as his ridiculous haircut, coming across as a poor man’s James Bond. Bryan Cranston is straight out of 007’s villainous bosses yearbook, offering nothing new that hasn’t been seen a thousand times already. John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson are completely pointless and ineffectual in their limited roles.
It’s hard to imagine there could be another movie that could possibly beat this film as 2024’s early entry as worst movie of the year. “Argylle” is the type of excruciating drivel that only succeeds in making you angry you wasted the time and money in watching it. Leave this disappointment in the litter box where it belongs.
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