Friday, February 2, 2024

Weekend Screen Scene: Argylle

The studios really want to keep the twists in the new spy thriller Argylle heavily guarded secrets, but here's one thing I will spoil, for those who, like me, go into certain kinds of movies with apprehension: the cat lives. (Also, for the vast majority of the movie, that cat is pure CGI, so don't be too concerned by the fact that it gets tossed around an awful lot.)

The marketing ploys surrounding the film--that the movie is adapted from a book by someone named Elly Conway, an author that doesn't really exist, and is actually the protagonist in the movie, unless, of course this whole thing really came from the mind of none other than TAYLOR SWIFT!--are ultimately more intriguing than the actual movie, which is not clever enough to support the multiple twists and turns of its plot.

Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Elly Conway, author of a series of popular novels centered on a spy named Agent Argylle. There appears to be a movie within the movie, in which Henry Cavill plays Argylle, although as with most things in Argylle, the logic of that conceit does not make a lot of sense. Sometimes Argylle appears to be a figment of Conway's imagination. But does he look like Henry Cavill because of a movie? Or is this just how Elly imagines him to be? And if its that, then why does the ending include --

Whoops, nope. No spoilers!

Sam Rockwell also stars as a real life spy (maybe!) out to help Elly when she finds herself embroiled in some real life espionage (MAYBE!). If the film has anything going for it, it's the cast that includes supporting roles and cameos from the likes of Catherine O'Hara, Samuel L. Jackson, Dua Lipa, and Bryan Cranston, amongst many others. And Sam Rockwell and Bryce Dallas Howard both make the film at least tolerable when they're on screen together. (Also, Sam Rockwell gets to dance, which is always a bonus.)

Matthew Vaughn movies can usually be counted on to at least have enough outrageous action and violence to keep you engaged, but Argylle feels phoned in, and is too long by at least 30 minutes; some parts are downright boring. Movies like this are only rewarding when, in the end, all the seemingly crazy parts fall into satisfying place, and in this one they most certainly do not. But at least that cat always lands on his feet.

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