Geek Review: Argylle

It’s easy to get typecast in Hollywood, as actors and directors get shoehorned into a particular genre and can’t seem to break free, but once in a while, you are at the receiving end of the sheer brilliance of a talent who constantly finds new ways to surprise audiences.

In the case of visionary British filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, there’s no doubt that he has transformed action cinema with the audacious Kick-Ass (2010) and the sleek Kingsman franchise, but what some might miss is that along with his X-Men films, they centre around normal characters who get thrust in extraordinary circumstances, from the kid who wants to be a superhero, to the kid who enters the school of the gifted, to the kid who learns to become a spy. 

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Argylle still

With Argylle, Vaughn trades superhero antics for an exhilarating espionage thriller that navigates across the globe in a mesmerising dance of twists and turns. Known for crafting some of cinema’s most unforgettable moments – from the balletic brutality in Kingsman‘s church scene to Hit-Girl’s guns a-blazing final battle in Kick-Ass, Vaughn is the cinematic master at turning your childhood fantasies into a frenetic adventure, as he works to redefine the spy genre yet again and brings audiences along on a roller-coaster ride of espionage, plot twists, and explosive adventure. 

Set in the same universe as Kingsman, Argylle, with its star-studded cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose, John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sofia Boutella is slightly reminiscent of his earlier works, yet distinctly crafted as its own beast. 

Argylle Elly Conway

At the heart of this whirlwind tale is Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), a reclusive novelist whose keyboard births the thrilling adventures of Agent Argylle (Henry Cavill), a super-spy navigating a shadowy underground syndicate. But when Elly’s fantastical plots begin eerily mirroring real-life events, her quiet life explodes into a kaleidoscope of danger as she is suddenly thrust into a world she only crafted on the page, hunted by a secret organisation whose clandestine activities echo the pages of her latest manuscript.

Enter Aiden Wilde (Sam Rockwell), an undercover, cat-allergic spy with a dry wit and together, they embark on a globe-trotting odyssey, chasing clues, and dodging bullets. The film surprises with its focus on Elly’s forgotten past in the second act, rather than just being another spy movie centered around the charismatic Agent Argylle.

As Argylle unfolds, Bryce Dallas Howard’s portrayal of Elly Conway becomes the linchpin of the narrative, particularly in the film’s second and third acts. The story takes an unexpected turn as it delves into the intricacies of Elly’s obscured past, shifting the spotlight from the typical spy-centric plot surrounding Agent Argylle. Howard’s performance is captivating, keeping the audience in a constant state of suspense about Elly’s true allegiance.

Argylle Elly and Aiden

Elly’s character evolution is one of the film’s most compelling aspects, with revelations about Elly’s past leaving audiences both stunned and deeply engaged. Howard’s ability to maintain this air of enigma about Elly’s true motivations is a testament to her skill, ensuring that viewers remain on the edge of their seats, guessing till the very end.

Amidst the high-stakes action, Vaughn keeps the tone light, steering clear of the gore typical of his previous works that command either an NC-16 or M-18 rating. Instead, Argylle offers a PG-13 alternative, making it more accessible to a wider audience. The film’s action sequences, though less polished and more over-the-top than those in Kingsman, are imaginative, and packed with Vaughn’s trademark flair for the absurd and exhilarating. This is further enhanced by a dynamic soundtrack, with unexpected choices like Leona Lewis’ power ballad ‘Run’ adding a unique twist to the fight sequences.

And while the ensemble delivers performances that add depth and intrigue, it’s Sam Rockwell who truly steals the show as the comedic MVP, with his snarky delivery and witty repartee injecting the film with laugh-out-loud moments even amidst the adrenaline rush. 

Argylle still

And then there’s Cavill, sporting a curiously Ivan Drago-esque flat-topped haircut that somehow exudes effortless charisma. While his limited screen time is primarily in the book’s fantastical sequences, his suave presence and effortless action hero moves leave you craving more of his solo adventures. Fans of Cavill’s portrayal can take heart: Director Matthew Vaughn has exciting plans for expanding the Argylle storyline. Vaughn, keen to collaborate again with Cavill, Rockwell, and Howard, has his production company, Marv Studios, actively working on a range of Argylle and Kingsman prequels and sequels, promising a richer exploration of the franchise.

But Argylle is not just about action and laughs. Layers of intrigue peel back slowly, revealing a labyrinthine plot rife with twists and turns that will keep audiences guessing until the very end. Just when they think they have cracked the code, the rug gets pulled from under them, leaving them scrambling to piece together the ever-shifting puzzle. The plot, though lengthy, unravels a complex web of espionage that’s both entertaining and engaging.

Argylle may not align with everyone’s tastes, particularly for fans of more realistic, gritty spy films reminiscent of the James Bond and Jason Bourne franchises. The film’s length and intricate plot might also pose a challenge to its rewatchability, but Argylle distinguishes itself as a lively and stylish adventure. It diverges from convention, offering a whimsical escape for those seeking a film that joyfully casts aside logic in favour of sheer entertainment. 

Henry Cavill, John Cena, & Dua Lipa

In an era often bogged down by cynicism and a parade of predictable sequels, Argylle emerges as a welcome anomaly. It’s a refreshing entry in the spy genre, wholeheartedly embracing and celebrating its cheesiness. The film proudly wears its over-the-top nature, inviting viewers to leave realism at the door and dive headfirst into its thrillingly absurd journey that throws everything at the wall – action, humour, mystery, music, even a hint of romance – and somehow manages to stick it all with aplomb.

While Argylle stands distinct in its storytelling, its conclusion intriguingly points to a potential cinematic universe where the intricate espionage of Kingsman converges with the imaginative scope of a bestselling spy novel, leaving audiences to eagerly anticipate what’s next, even when the credits start rolling.



Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle deviates from the traditional James Bond formula, offering a global espionage thrill ride packed with unexpected twists, witty humour, and exhilarating action sequences.

  • Story - 7/10
  • Direction - 7.5/10
  • Characterisation - 7.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 7/10