From the onset, Argylle feels like it should be bigger, badder, and more special than it is. After a smashing first 25 or so minutes, the movie simply deflates a bit. The Matthew Vaugn-directed picture is about as bombastic as his other movies, but it combines that with a length that sorely needed to be cut down. After about three false endings, you’re left with an audience that’s groaning for the movie to finish instead of cheering for what they saw.

It’s a shame because there is a lot of good in Argylle. It’s a fantastic premise for a movie. Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a writer who conjures up terrific stories of espionage and spies, but her stories end up being true and predicting events that happen with a shadowy organization that aims to kidnap her and find out how she knows what she knows. Another spy, Aidan (Sam Rockwell) intercepts her and tries to keep her safe from the shadowy organization. Her stories are filled with the tales of Agent Argylle (Henry Cavill) and his partners played by John Cena and Ariana DeBose.

That premise alone is worth watching Argylle. If you’re a fan of Matthew Vaughn’s previous work and enjoy his style, you’ll also get a kick out of it. The action isn’t as big as something like The Kingsman, but it still provides action fans plenty to work with. The real issue is that those action scenes are scattered throughout the film with gaps in between.

Throughout the film, it feels like it’s gaining momentum, only for it to do a twist or a turn that loses steam. This was a script from Jason Fuchs that had some great ideas but could have used some more polish. I’m not going to complain about the action scenes that take place because it’s supposed to be a hyper-aggressive, in-your-face action movie that’s over the top. But there are scenes, particularly near the end of the film, that could have used something like a canister of frozen nitrogen being shot and freezing the ground, or some similar action movie explanation. Mentioning the suspension of disbelief is ‘pushes up glasses film school freshman’ kind of behavior, but here it does come into play. They went for the most over-the-top stuff but also went for extraordinarily over-the-top explanations or no explanations when it could have been done in a simpler way.

For the faults, and overly long third act, Argylle is still exceptionally entertaining. Sam Rockwell and Henry Cavill are magnificent. They do a thing where it cuts between Elly Conway’s vision of a scene and the real thing with Aidan, and it’s masterful. Rockwell is full of charm, and even in the most bogged-down moments, he shines through. Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly is as relatable as it gets. If you can imagine a writer being thrown into a world of spies and action, she acts exactly like that.

The scenes showcasing Elly’s version of events are the best parts and kind of make me want more of that. They’re just action movie pulp and they capture the essence of spy thrillers. Between those action scenes, there’s a surprising amount of romance in Argylle. If you’re getting dragged to this movie and you don’t like action, but like romance, it might catch you off guard.

The music choices don’t feel as inspired as they could. There are still some good needle drops, but some of the tracks don’t fit as well. It all adds up to a movie that feels like there was something better, but the version we get isn’t terrible. It’s just not as inspired or action-packed as the first quarter feels like.

Wrap It Up: Argylle Is Worth Watching

To wrap it all up, Argylle is stylistic, bombastic, and hilarious at points; but fails to act on a great premise and excellent first quarter-ish. It’s simply fun to watch, but doesn’t set itself apart from other better action films. The message that there’s something special waiting to come out in all of us is nice. The performances are good and aid the film, but it just feels like there’s two too many false endings here. It takes the air out of the third act and it has a somewhat confusing epilogue and mid-credits scene. The action doesn’t get spread out enough and makes it feel like there are sections that drag. Those don’t take everything that Argylle does well away from it, though; this is still a fun spy action movie with over-the-top action and tons of charm.

And for the conspiracy theorists out there, no, Taylor Swift didn’t write this movie or the tie-in book. If you don’t know, go look it up.

Argylle releases in theaters on February 2nd, 2024.

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