Matthew Vaughn has made some fantastic action blockbusters over the years, from Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class to the Kingsman movies.
An all-star cast was announced for Argylle including Dua Lipa, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, John Cena, Samuel L Jackson, Ariana DeBose and more.
It soon became apparent that the film was to be based on debut novelist Elly Conway’s spy thriller of the same name, promising a globetrotting adventure involving a “luxury train speeding towards Moscow” and “a Nazi hoard entombed in the remote mountains of South-West Poland”.
But then came the first trailer for the movie adaptation and suddenly our anticipation was somewhat squashed.
It turned out the blockbuster was taking a meta spin, with the movie actually following fictional Argylle novel author Conway (Howard), who discovered that her books reflect the real-life world of espionage.
It’s not long before Rockwell’s actual spook Aidan drags the writer and her cat (owned by Vaughn’s wife Claudia Schiffer) on an adventure to discover the truth; one in which we were still hoping would have big roles for the other major stars. Tragically this was not the case at all.
Argylle’s trailer and poster turned out to be pure clickbait. Cavill and Dua Lipa are front and centre of the latter and alongside John Cena and Ariana DeBose are only in the movie for a couple of scenes. This is mostly in the film’s opening and was akin to the cameos at the start of Austin Powers’ Goldmember.
Instead what we get is a sub-par, should-have-been-straight-to-streaming-at-best disappointment. Howard and Rockwell’s characters amble off on an incredibly boring quest that made the audience member next to me literally decide to take a nap rather than engage with the utter garbage in front of our eyes.
Of course, there’s plenty of over-the-top action, which is one of Vaughn’s signatures, but it’s tonally completely off given the real-world setting. Lowlights include the silly CGI cat scratching a villain’s face, Conway ice skating on spilt oil as she takes out baddies and the two leads dancing to “our song” – which tastelessly ended up being the just okay AI-aided John Lennon Beatles track Now and Then, released only a few months ago.
The only redeeming feature of being robbed of almost two and half hours of our lives we’ll never get back was the promise at the end of what audiences had been excited about in the first place.
That’s right, after Cavill fans were cruelly tricked into watching this nonsense, there’s a promise that an actual adaptation of the Argylle novel (which is out now) is in the works. And to be honest, after what we’ve just witnessed we’re not even sure if we want it anymore.
The most painful thing about this rubbish is that Vaughn is usually brilliant at making tongue-in-cheek action-packed spy movies.
But having chosen this narrative route (with all its overdone twists and turns inspired by other well-established spook stories) has been a colossal waste of his and the A-list cast’s talent. An abysmal disappointment.
Argylle hits UK cinemas on February 2 and will stream on Apple TV+ at a later date.