By: Douglas Salter
Matthew Vaughn makes his return to the spy genre with his latest movie Argylle. Vaughn previously directed all 3 Kingsman movies (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle and The Kings Man). In his previous efforts, Vaughn has given his spy movies a sense of originality. The films are not supposed to be drama ridden like James Bond, but they are also not laugh out loud comedies. Vaughn designates his spy movies to be clever, but still developmental. With Argylle he takes a different approach that did not exactly do things for the better.
Argylle is about a writer named Elly Conway. Elly makes fictional spy novels about a spy named Argylle. Argylle is a charismatic spy that sort of has an unclear motive of his role. However, he tries to keep his tough guy, does not go by the rules nature by pushing it into his more humor based partner Wyatt. What makes the books so successful is Elly’s imagination. They way she writes about the spy’s personality and experience so well as if she is one or has at least encompassed the life of one. Elly goes to finish her fifth and final book, but unprecedentedly struggles with writer’s block. She no longer knows what happens next, almost as if it has not happened yet. She soon learns that not everything is what it appears.
Elly goes on a mess of adventures and misunderstandings. She discovers that she is not who she really thinks she is. That the world written by her is not by design but is all too familiar as times go on. She meets various people who try to help her and learns that the people she thought she could trust are really the ones breaking the glimpse of reality right out of her sight. She begins to see her life mirrored with her titular character Agent Argylle.
The story goes all over the place in a sense that basically turns it into a knot. You can see how to untie it all, but then everything becomes a mess. There are twists left and right like a racecar track and this really just makes for poor writing and unexpressed development for the story we are presented with. Vaughn never really allows us to connect with the situation at hand and introduces us with a new one as if he is shoving food down our throats while we are still chewing.
What made his first spy film Kingsman so successful was the overall nature and pace of the characters and story. He allowed it to develop and unravel slowly with bits of satire mixed in. Although with Argylle he forces the satire too much and turns his whimsical journey into basically dumb fun. There are enjoyable moments based on the characters and their ups and downs, but it is ultimately trifled by Vaughn’s lack of straightforward writing and forced humor.
I give Argylle 2.5/5 stars because while a lot fell short, I still did somewhat enjoy my time viewing it. Like his previous movies, Vaughn uses music, color and costumes to enhance his story. He did succeed with this, but after enduring everything else, all these great additions to the story were an afterthought. I would definitely see it as a popular streaming service option in the upcoming months. For those who just love simple action and comedy, this is the film for you. For someone that came in with expectations given Vaughn’s previous films, I was left wanting more and wished a lot was left out.