‘Argylle’ is a Triple Threat … Uninspired, Idiotic and Boring

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Argylle” is a nasty, smelly cinematic hairball coughed up on unsuspecting audiences. It’s a collection of half remembered clichés, atrocious writing, incoherent action, and terrible performances. A flaming dumpster fire of which only the great comic actor Catherine O’Hara emerges largely unscathed.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a spy novelist, and not a very good one judging from the prose quoted in her books. However her books had become very popular telling the adventures of a super suave international man of intrigue Agent Argylle. She herself is a homebody whose most constant companion is her cat Alfie, and struggling with a bit of writer’s block about to end her next book.

Photo credit: Universal Studios

Before you can blink twice she finds herself involved in some real life cloak and dagger business, when a shadowy international organization makes the first of many attempts on her life. She’s saved by a former rogue agent (Sam Rockwell) who looks like the antithesis of the suave spy, showing up looking more like a deadhead beach bum. He too dispatches the bad guys, but without the grace Elly had imagined. So she (and we as an audience) keep getting Rockwell replaced by the image of Henry Cavill as Aryglle instead.

It seems Conway’s books are hitting a little too close to home for the real spy organization and they want to find out what happens next. The film wants to be a winking-meta-action comedy, and if it had committed to the idea of the mousy writer somehow ending up in her own story and trying to write her way out of it, there might have been something to work with … but “Argylle” plays more like a brainstorming session where a lack of coherence is played off as plot twists.

The cast includes A-Listers everywhere you turn … including Samuel L. Jackson, Bryan Cranston, John Cena, Dua Lipa and many more. Nearly everyone goes down with the ship, especially poor Bryce Dallas Howard and Henry Cavill. Cavill especially is back to his bad movie ways after “Mission Impossible: Fallout” offered hope for better things in his career. At least Sam Rockwell appears to be having fun spending other people’s money.

The film is ostensibly a real globe trotting adventure, but every action scene seems to take place in that same green screened CGI netherworld that looks about as fake as a canvas backdrop from Olan Mills at this point. Director Matthew Vaughn was responsible for “The Kingsman” film franchise, and “Kick-Ass” before that. The Kingsman always had a peculiar effervescent quality of being relatively entertaining at the moment and fading from memory almost immediately. Vaughn’s “Argylle” makes The Kingsman look like “Goldfinger” by comparison.

Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa and John Cena in ‘Argylle’
Photo credit: Universal Studios

“Argylle” keeps finding new lows as it drags on, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any dumber it finds a seemingly unseen new depth in which to sink. My daughter and I were slapping our hands on our foreheads, our mouths agape at the uninspired, idiotic and boring spectacle before us. This flea bitten nonsense is all the more infuriating because it thinks it’s hilarious because it keeps telling us it is without providing anything actually funny.

When one character in this woebegone action comedy gets his head blown off in the first half hour, I began to envy him. He got out, while the rest of us were forced to endure a running time that feels interminable. When people tell me that it must be pretty nice to be able to go to the movies for a living, “Argylle” will be my case in point when I tell them that sometimes the job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

”Argylle” is in theaters February 2nd. Featuring Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Henry Cavill, Ariana DeBose, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson. Written by Jason Fuchs. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


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