Freeman Cebu Entertainment

?Argylle’ is a spy comedy with way too many silly plot twists

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

If you think you know everything about “Argylle” based on the trailer that was heavily played in theaters and online months before its January 31 release in Philippine cinemas, you are wrong. And not for the reasons that you think.

The latest spy comedy by “Kingsman” director Matthew Vaughn focuses on a spy novelist Elly Conway (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) who finds herself involved in a real-life mission after the story she depicted in her novels is dangerously close to an ongoing race-against-time operation and is being hunted down by a villainous organization headed by Ritter (Bryan Cranston).

Elly and her gray Scottish Fold cat Alfie are protected and guided by real spy Aidan (Sam Rockwell) who has been closely monitoring her since she first published the book that launched her into fame. Elly slowly discovers that her connection to what’s happening in the espionage world is much closer than a mere coincidence.

Taking place concurrently with the plot are the events depicted in the novel-within-the-movie as Elly taps into the mindset of her titular character (Henry Cavill) and his sidekick Wyatt (John Cena) on what they would do in these situations where Elly and Aidan are currently.

The film’s premise is strongly compelling and it’s sprinkled with a strong cast that also includes Dua Lipa, Samuel L. Jackson, Ariana DeBose, and Catherine O’Hara. Vaughn seems to have a strong knack for making these A-listers join these over-the-top spy actions thanks to his strong track record. You can always expect him to deliver some of the most stylistic, over-the-top scenes seen in his “Kingsman” and “Kick-Ass” films and it has nothing short of those.

However, what made “Argylle” fall apart was the amount of plot twists that felt too corny to the point that the story is a head-scratcher. The first plot twist is believable, but each revolution keeps getting too ridiculous to watch. It’s expected of Vaughn that his films would have a bit of absurdity, but they are usually well-executed, so, surprisingly, he missed the mark here.

Howard is no stranger to the action genre, having appeared in the Jurassic World films with Chris Pratt and has directed a handful of episodes of the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian.” So it’s nice to see the actress performing some of the action scenes as the character progresses in consideration of her experience in the genre.

Another highlight is Henry Cavill where his scenes give justice to why he is an effective action star, something that the Superman films don’t often give justice to why he is deserving of one.

Since this was produced by Apple originally intended for their streaming service before tapping Universal Pictures as a distributor for its theatrical release, you can expect on-the-nose product placement of the tech company’s products such as the Mac computer and the iPhone. Thankfully, the trending Apple Vision Pro that was recently released isn’t featured here because the advertising would be too on-the-nose and would distract viewers, even though the tech has the potential to be used in an espionage story.

Without going into spoiler territory, the film attempts to establish connections with the Kingsman film franchise, implying that they take place within the same spy universe created by Vaughn. As they are made by different studios (The Kingsman franchise is distributed by Disney through 20th Century Pictures), it would be interesting to see how the logistics of a potential crossover would work out.

There are a lot of good ideas that “Argylle” can explore that could have made this film a memorable spy action comedy film and another stellar gem in Vaughn’s filmography. Unfortunately, it’s frustrating to see a compelling premise and a strong cast would go to waste with its puzzling execution due to its silly plot twists.

Best to wait for its release on Apple TV+ than to watch this on the big screen, which is a shame because the film is visually gorgeous but the plot isn’t worth a movie ticket, even with the cute Scottish Fold in the mix. Two stars out of five.

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