Argylle (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Matthew Vaughn, written by Jason Fuchs and starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill, John Cena, Bryan Cranston, Ariana DeBose, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa, Daniel Singh, Richard E. Grant, Jason Fuchs, Tomas Paredes, Bobby Holland Hanton, Greg Townley, Alaa Habib, Samuel L. Jackson, Raagni Sharma, Chip the Cat and Jing Lusi.
Director Matthew Vaughn’s new spy comedy, Argylle, has many pluses and a few minuses but is ultimately salvaged as a whole thanks to the fun performances by the movie’s stars, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell. It appears Howard and Rockwell are having a blast on screen and that helps keep the action moving forward in a considerably entertaining fashion that makes Vaughn’s picture an overall success, especially for fans of the picture’s leads.
Some people could argue that Henry Cavill and John Cena also have significant portions of screen time in Argylle but since they’re playing fictional characters within a story within the movie’s main story, those two characters end up getting lost a bit in the shuffle even with Cavill getting a pretty large amount of screen time. The real supporting player that shines in Argylle is Chip the Cat as Alfie. As Howard’s author character, Elly Conway’s precious pet, Chip gets to steal the movie on more than a few occasions. Alfie has a number of scenes that are integral to the success of the film’s story line and Chip plays the scenes well although I have a sneaky suspicion that there was more than a fair share of CGI involved here.
The plot of Argylle is almost impossible to discuss without revealing spoilers but I’ll do my best to keep from giving too much away. The film opens with the fictional handsome, well-dressed spy referred to in the film’s title who is played by Henry Cavill. He finds himself in the middle of trouble as a sexy blonde woman sets him up. Then, we find out that Argylle is simply a character in a best-selling spy book series penned by Conway. That author played by Howard, at one point in the movie, is called a “cat lady” by Rockwell’s character because she takes Alfie everywhere she goes in a bag Conway wears on her back.
The hilarious plot begins to unfold as Conway boards a train with intentions to go visit her mom (the always reliable Catherine O’Hara). A handsome guy asks if he can sit across from Conway but she tells him the seat is taken. Then, a scruffy looking guy (Rockwell donning a disguise) takes the seat. He ends up saving Conway from a group of vicious bad guys who are out to get her. Why? Because the plots of Conway’s books are too true to life to be written off as simply fiction. A villain known as Director Ritter (Bryan Cranston) is behind much of the attempts to access information from Conway and then bump her off.
This film focuses on Rockwell’s character, Aidan Wilde, as he reveals it is his intention to protect Conway from harm. Much of the movie consists of them running around being pursued by goons. Conway discovers a book under the floorboards in an apartment that has a lot of secrets and provides the McGuffin for the movie’s story to take flight. Rockwell and Howard play off each other with terrific mastery that has their characters becoming so likable that even when Conway overhears Wilde say he wants to get rid of her, the audience will still like Wilde. Unless, of course, he really is trying to do Conway dirty. I won’t tell you how the rest of the movie progresses except to say that it all ends up with Conway donning knives on the bottom of her footwear as ice skates as oil is leaking all around and bad guys are too afraid to shoot their guns because everything would go up in flames.
Rockwell and Howard are the heart and soul of Argylle. Rockwell, in particular, gives the movie almost all of its comic humor as Howard plays the “straight” role to Rockwell’s mysterious, zany spy. I’d watch these two in anything they did and was never bored watching Argylle. The movie goes on well past its welcome, though, at over two hours in length and throws in one too many twists and turns willy-nilly at the end.
The supporting cast is decent enough. John Cena has just a few scenes but Cavill makes the most of his time playing Conway’s creation of a character. Check your brain at the door when viewing this movie because it probably makes zero sense when you discover the major plot twist of the film regarding the surprise surrounding Conway’s previous life. But, Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance is certainly welcome in the picture even if he could have had a juicier role than the one he actually has. Ariana DeBose is adequate in the movie’s smallest heroic role while Cranston doesn’t disappoint as the primary baddie in the film.
Argylle uses the philosophy: When in doubt, bring the cute cat back on screen. Vaughn brings the cat into the picture whenever there’s a lull in its story line. When Rockwell, Chip and Howard jump into a boat, it’s a very funny scene. Wilde, who is allergic to cats, throws the feline into the boat first to see if it’s safe for Conway and him to jump off as well. The cat bounces back a few times during the course of Argylle much like the movie itself. Rockwell and Howard are having so much fun, the audience may just find it an enjoyable enough cinematic diversion at the movies to warrant a viewing.
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