We've met James Bond. We've met Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne and even 'Eggsy'. It's now time for the world to meet Agent Argylle in Matthew Vaughn's Argylle. It's a spy adventure that comes with plenty of thrills and spills, with one simple objective; provide the audience with a fun time at the cinema.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an introverted spy novelist who seldom leaves her home, is drawn into the real world of espionage when the plots of her books, featuring a fictional secret agent named Argylle (Henry Cavill), get a little too close to the activities of a sinister underground syndicate. When Aidan (Sam Rockwell), an undercover spy, shows up to save her from being kidnapped or killed, Elly and her beloved cat Alfie are plunged into a covert world where nothing and no one are what they seem, including to the discovery that Agent Argylle, in fact, exists for real.
For a long period of time, the only promotional material for Argylle was a couple of production stills that featured Henry Cavill sporting an atrocious haircut as Agent Argylle. The images joined the Brendan Fraser still from The Whale, and the still featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone from Killers of the Flower Moon as images ingrained in our memory before the film even releases. It's due to the secrecy surrounding the plot in Argylle's case yet no publicity is bad publicity and, to be honest, it became odd to see Cavill out in public with his normal hairstyle. Having seen a test screening of the film back in November 2022, I was aware of all the film's secrets but was keen to see it play out with finished effects and other aspects.

Argylle is a globe-trotting spy adventure that wears its heart on its sleeve and owns tuning into its cheesy and playful nature to become a far cry from other, more serious spy films. We've become accustomed to Matthew Vaughn having fun in this genre, his Kingsman films in particular, and this film is no different. Jason Fuchs' writing allows the film to breathe amidst all the chaos, messing around between fiction and reality to great effect, culminating in one hell of a third act that will raise the roof. Vaughn utilises music once again to ensure the action feels fresh and the final act includes a brilliant use of Leona Lewis' Run, fitting so well with an action set-piece that on paper seems like it shouldn't work but is just glorious on the big screen.
Some of the action sequences contain some ropey visual effects, a skating one in particular, yet hearing how they filmed it just makes it even more unbelievable they managed to get it into the film. It's one thing that seemingly remains an issue in big budget films these days so would be great to see some of the effects ironed out in post-production. Though Fuchs' writing does keep the film ticking over nicely, the film does feel a little bloated by the end and could do with some trimming down however, when having this much fun it's much easier to ignore.

Coming to the performances, Argylle features an ensemble cast fully committed to the bit while clearly having a blast as a result. Leading the film is a confident and charismatic Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly Conway, proving again she can mix it up with the men in the adventure genre, while sharing electric chemistry with Sam Rockwell, who once again just instantly improves any film he's a part of. Together they provide the film with a relationship that sparks the narrative into life and unexpected territory. It's also great to see Henry Cavill being a bit of a dork in this film, his Agent Argylle wonderfully spoofing the archetypal spy character with a haircut to kill. After seeing Cavill linger in limbo over whether he will return to play Superman in the future, it's fun to see him cut loose and play it rather stupid. The rest of the supporting cast are a delight too, Bryan Cranston in particular bringing so much energy to his villainous role.

It may sound like I'm beating the fun drum so much when it comes to Argylle however, in a world where it feels like the subject matter of many films has to be so serious, a little bit of silly escapism never hurt anybody. Finding out who the real Agent Argylle is might just be the most entertaining cinematic experience of the year.

Verdict: ★★★★


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