3 out of 5 stars (average)
Argylle is one of the single silliest spy movies I have ever seen and that’s a good thing. Desiring to rub elbows with similar wish fulfillment fantasy adventures Romancing The Stone, Knight & Day, or The Lost City, Argylle starts out absurd and keeps going from there, seemingly in a bet with itself over how ridiculous it can become for our entertainment. It’s the kind of film that only asks you to sit back and go for the ride, and I welcomed that request with open arms.
Ellie Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) has spent the last 5 years writing the Argylle book series: The kind of ultra-cheesy spy novels you read at the airport gate to pass time. In her stories, the debonair Agent Argylle (An oddly-haircutted Henry Cavill) stops international threats, but Ellie’s real life sees no such adventure, with only her cat and mother (Catherine O’Hara) for companionship. One day on a train, the aloof agent Aiden (Sam Rockwell) approaches Ellie and informs her that her fictional novels have unintentionally predicted real-world events and the evil organization she thought was a fantasy is actually real and out to get her. With the bad guys in tow and nobody to trust, Ellie must go on the adventure of a lifetime as she evades her pursuers.
Argylle sets its cards on the table right from the outset and doesn’t let go. I’ve always believed that the difference between a good dumb action movie and a bad one is that a bad one doesn’t go as far as possible in that dumbness, and Argylle revels in its outrageousness as far as the PG-13 rating will allow. The action is slick and thrilling, the story and characters exaggerated, and it moves like a bullet so its runtime speeds by. Director Matthew Vaughn (Known for the Kingsman movies) brings his usual style here, so if you’ve enjoyed the action of his other movies, you’ll like this too. It’s a film full of crazy twists and turns that knows exactly what it wants to do and how to do it.
The supporting cast (including Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, and Ariana DeBose) are also fun and the double climax left a huge smile stretched across my face. There’s also an adorable cat featured here, which makes any movie better. It certainly won’t be joining “Best Action Films” lists, but I’ll gladly take outlandish thrills like this where I can get them. Argylle is precisely the kind of breezy action escapism that keeps theaters alive and I hope it finds an audience despite the critical bashing it’s currently receiving. Like the books its protagonist writes, it exists purely to entertain you, and it did so quite well for me. See it in theaters if you can and have a blast.
Rated PG-13 for Strong Violence and Action And Some Strong Language