Matthew Vaughn has a history of delivering high-octane action movies that have been crowd-pleasers over the last decade with Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class, and The King's Man franchise. Although Vaughn's filmography is hit or miss for me, I was excited about his latest film, Argylle. The film follows Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an author who writes best-selling espionage novels about a secret Agent named Argylle.
The movie begins with an outlandish sequence where Argylle (Henry Cavill) attempts to bring down LaGrange (Dua Lipa) but gets caught up in the crosshairs of a bad agent. One thing leads to another, and Wyatt (John Cena), Argylle's partner, is able to capture LaGrange. All of this unfolds in a very Fast and the Furious-type manner.
Without divulging any spoilers, the movie has some twists and turns within each character that attempt to send you on specific paths of figuring out what is real vs. what is not. The plot reminded me of the 2022 Sandra Bullock-led film The Lost City. It had similar beats within the stories of Loretta Sage and Argylle's Elly Conway. The big problem is The Lost City understood its hokeyness leading to a fun time at the movies, while Argylle attempted to do way too much without leaning heavily into the "stupidness" that it ultimately presents in the third act.
That third act was atrocious, with one of the worst action sequences I've seen in a movie. If the entire film leans toward the over-the-top aspect, maybe this entire scene works, but it doesn't, and it's just one bad scene after another. Honestly, I would love to have a word with whoever thought this scene not only worked but thought it was good.
Vaughn has been known to gather star-studded casts, and Argylle is no different with Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Ariana DeBose, and John Cena. Let's not forget Dua Lipa, who I was very excited to see in a lead-ish role (she is on the poster), but what you see in the trailer is what you get from Lipa in the movie (broke my heart). I was also disappointed with the lack of cat usage.
Playful comedic moments mainly work because of Sam Rockwell, who was an absolute delight. He might be the sole reason this film wasn't a complete dud for me. Rockwell was on another level in this movie, and his banter with Bryce Dallas Howard was rather great. Also, a shoutout to Catherine O'Hara, who has a small but fun role in the film.
My disparaging remarks aside, my screening was packed, and they ate up most of this movie. Because of that, I have to Argylle a recommendation for my readers. Although I didn't love it, I can see where audiences will enjoy the over-the-top aspects and the ensemble cast. Overall, Argylle is another misfire for me from Matthew Vaughn, who struggles to put together a good enough third act to stick the landing. I wanted to love this, but it just never delivered on a solid premise. If you're considering watching the movie, I would wait for the Apple TV+ streaming release.