At The Movies With Josh: Argylle

I was really looking forward to this movie. The trailers made it look like it would be a blast (no pun intended). And the cast! Superman Henry Cavill as the good looking spy. Wrestler/actor John Cena as the heavy. Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, looking like he’s going to be bad again. Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, talking on a train like he’s channeling Owen Wilson, as either a hippie fan of a spy novelist, or a spy himself. The novelist, played by nepo-baby Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron’s daughter, from the Jurassic World franchise). There’s also Sofia Boutella, Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose (who I sat next to at the Critics Choice Awards, and she couldn’t have been sweeter), Catherine O’Hara, and last but not least, the actor who should have an Oscar by now but doesn’t (only a nomination for Pulp Fiction) – Samuel Jackson.

Howard plays Elly Conway, the author of espionage novels that are big hits. She doesn’t have a personal life, opting to stay home and write and hang out with her cat (the same bizarre breed that Taylor Swift has, which led many to think she actually wrote the book this film is based on). 

The plots in Elly’s books center around a secret agent named Argyll, and how he’s trying to take down a spy syndicate that’s gone dirty. Yet since these stories are a lot like what is happening in real life, various people are now after her to see what she knows. 

So Aidan (Rockwell) shows up on a train, kills a bunch of bad guys that want to kill Elly, and she’s just confused by it all. Since she has a lot of anxiety, she often talks with the fictional character in her novel (Henry Cavill). He offers words of encouragement. 

I can’t say much more about the plot without spoilers. And when things don’t hold up to scrutiny at some point, chalk it up to this picture becoming a send-up of the spy genre, like the movie “Spy” (Melissa McCarthy). I thought of another movie about a writer and a real life thing happening that was cute, from a few years ago – The Lost City.

Writer/director Matthew Vaughn is a mixed bag for me. I loved the stuff he did working with Guy Ritchie (aside from that horrid Madonna film). When Vaughn went on his own, he did the brilliant “Layer Cake” (the last film Daniel Craig did before he became Bond). The first Kingsmen was great. The other two were awful. The “Kick-Ass” movies all disappointed me, but I did like what he did with the X-Men franchise.

During the first half of this movie, I enjoyed a lot of the silliness. The second half of this two hour picture started to bore me. There’s a scene with a character ice skating through oil and killing people, which isn’t nearly as fun as Kingsman Colin Firth killing all those people in church while “Free Bird” played. Vaughn probably thought this scene would have that level of cool, but it was just idiotic. As was the scene with two spies dancing, kissing, and shooting up the bad guys – with different colors of smoke blowing hearts into the air.

Oh, and since I brought up the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, someone needs to explain to me why they used that new Beatles song “Now and Then.” I’ve yet to meet anyone that actually likes that tune (and I’m a huge Beatles fan).

This gets 2 stars out of 5, but as a few of my friends have told me before, “I just like to go to a movie and turn off my brain and watch things blow up and not think too much about the plot” – well, those folks will have fun, so don’t let my lack of stars dissuade you.

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