The spy game gets the spoof treatment in director Matthew Vaughn’s ‘Argylle’ (2024).
Jumping straight into the absurd world of super spy Aubrey Argylle, played by a camp Henry Cavill with a haircut from hell, the high-energy caper gives us Dua Lipa as the villainous LaGrange, Ariana DeBose as tech whiz Keira, and John Cena as Wyatt, Argylle’s sensitive sidekick.
If you’re just about liking the look of things, brace yourself for the record scratch, because, as per the film trailer, Argylle is a fictional character from the mind of solitary woman author, Elly Conway, played by a wide-eyed Bryce Dallas Howard.
Cliché in her singleness, reclusiveness and her need for an emotional support cat, Elly is the bestselling writer of a spy series that spawns a line of merchandise and draws dressed-up fans to book readings.
Repeating the phrase “the greater the spy, the bigger the lie”, ‘Argyle’ is dizzying, sometimes eye-rolling, in its various twists and turns as the almost two-and-a-half-hour film hurtles through a plot that leans into the ridiculous.
Star-studded with the likes of roughed-edged Sam Rockwell as the real-life Argylle, Catherine O’Hara as Elly’s mother, Bryan Cranston as the murderous head of a nefarious organisation called the Division, as well as Samuel L Jackson as cool cat and retired CIA ally Alfie, ‘Argylle’ gives you the beautiful locales and over-the-top action sequences one has come to expect from spy genre films in the wake of the cinematic James Bond.
In the hands of director Matthew Vaughn, all this is ramped up, filled with CGI and centred around action sequences as quirky as a multi-coloured dance duet below the romance of tear gas or a newly badass Elly figure skating on oil as she dispatches bad guys in a sparkly, yellow evening gown that remains remarkably clean throughout.
Dishing out nods to various spy films and tropes, as well as to Howard’s own filmography as she jettisons her heels in an ostensible nod to ‘Jurassic World’ (2015), ‘Argylle’ runs long, pushes the absurd, and seems to have a lot of fun.
Rockwell in particular looks like he’s having a good time, while Howard’s refreshingly curvy, two-toned protagonist is endearing – despite being saddled with an underwritten, whisky sour-drinking character whose twist you may see coming.
Strictly escapist and not to be taken at all seriously, ‘Argylle’ will appeal to fans of spoofs, spy films and Vaughn’s signature style.
Stay put for a mid-credits scene and pray they give Argylle a new haircut in the next one.
– firstname.lastname@example.org; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamukaiwa.com
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