Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Argylle (English) Movie Review: ARGYLLE is a disappointing fare

ARGYLLE is the story of a writer being chased by a dangerous organization. Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a successful spy novelist, who has written five volumes of Argylle. It’s about a secret agent named Aubrey Argylle (Henry Cavill) and his adventures. Elly’s fans are stunned not just by the edge-of-the-seat narrative in her books but also by how the events depicted have later happened in real life. She gets stuck while writing the sixth part and decides to meet her parents to get fresh ideas. While she is travelling on the train, she meets a dishevelled passenger Adian (Sam Rockwell). He reveals himself to be an actual spy and that her life is in danger. She rubbishes it off but the next second, she gets attacked by goons. Adian rescues her and then explains how the happenings in her books have raised eyebrows, especially the hacker angle. He also informs her that a real-life hacker, Bakunin (Stanley Morgan), was supposed to deliver a digital file, containing important information, to Adian at Albert Memorial, London. However, he never turned up. Adian asks Elly to switch on her thinking cap and guess why Bakunin was a no-show and where he must have kept the file. The goons, who attacked Elly, belong to the ‘Division’, a criminal organization, headed by Ritter (Bryan Cranston). They also wanted to locate the file and hence, they tried to kidnap Elly. Adian’s mission is to now save Elly from the Division and retrieve the file. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Jason Fuchs’s story has a novel touch and could have been made for a great spy thriller. Jason Fuchs’s screenplay is promising but later, it goes all over the place. Jason Fuchs’s dialogues are decent and could have been funnier.

Matthew Vaughn’s direction has his trademark stamp. On the positive side, the beginning portions are entertaining and fascinating, especially the chase sequence in Greece. The manner in which a docile novelist gets chased by dangerous henchmen and the bond she forms with the ‘good spy’ makes for a superb watch. What also adds to the novelty is Elly assuming Argylle, from her novel, is the one who’s fighting, instead of Adian. Both the train sequence and the attack at the hacker’s hideout keep the interest going.

But then the way the film falls in the second half will leave viewers shocked. From an original, wacky entertainer, the film becomes cliched and also childish. Elly’s flashback is far from convincing. The whole ‘hypnosis’ angle is silly and it’s shocking how it got approved. The film ends with the promise of a sequel, but it won’t leave the audience excited.

Speaking of performances, Bryce Dallas Howard plays the lead part with conviction. Sam Rockwell, as expected, is dependable and entertaining. Samuel L Jackson (Alfred Solomon) is damn good, as always. Henry Cavill looks suave but sadly, he’s hardly there. Bryan Cranston and Catherine O’Hara (Ruth; Elly’s mother) are fair. Sofia Boutella (Saba Al-Badr) is wasted. The same goes for Ariana DeBose (Keira); it’s sad that an actress of her calibre is given an inconsequential role. Dua Lipa (LaGrange) is rocking in a cameo. The same applies to John Cena (Wyatt).

Lorne Balfe’s music is typical. George Richmond’s cinematography adds to the cinematic feel. Russell De Rozario and Daniel Taylor’s production design is rich. Stephanie Collie’s costumes are rich, especially the golden gown worn by Bryce Dallas Howard in the second half. The action is slick. VFX matches global standards. Tom Harrison-Read and Lee Smith’s editing is decent though the run time of 139 minutes is too much.

On the whole, ARGYLLE is a disappointing fare with a silly second half. At the box office, it has got a wide release in India. But due to negligible ticket sales and poor word of mouth, it might face a massive reduction of shows from Saturday.

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