One of the big stories from the world of cinema is the disastrous opening for Argylle, the spy comedy from the director of the Kingsman films and X-Men: First Class. Despite an all-star cast, mega budget, and huge advertising push, the film has flopped at the box office and is predicted by many to sustain a nine-figure loss.
Not even the entirely false suggestion that the spy novel it’s based upon was written by Taylor Swift was enough to convince people to visit cinemas. So, is it as bad as the numbers suggest?
Bryce Dallas Howard grins and bears it as Elly Conway, the author of a popular series of spy novels featuring the suave protagonist Agent Argylle (Henry Cavill). Fact and fiction intersect when Elly is attacked on a train and rescued by a real spy (Sam Rockwell), who reveals that her books are actually predicting real life incidents, making her the target of an evil terrorist organisation.
Following a similar pattern to Kingman (outsider enters a secretive spy world), the film sadly becomes more tedious as the time rolls on. The viewer is beaten into submission with pointless twists that over complicate the story and make the mission feel like a chore. The high production values are undermined by elements that don’t particularly work, such as Cavill appearing in Elly’s subconscious, or numerous gags involving her cat. Nothing comes together in a satisfying way, and at around two hours twenty minutes those weaknesses add up.
Rockwell and Howard are fun as the odd couple outrunning bullets, while Bryan Cranston is over the top as the villain, Ritter. The characters who exist in Elly’s books are great to watch, but it feels like a waste of big stars such as Cavill and John Cena, given they only appear sporadically. The highly publicised appearance of a certain pop star (not that one!) is even more confusing, given it’s barely more than a glamorous cameo.
There are worse films than Argylle, but few that were more costly to produce. The proposed beginning of a trilogy, it’s difficult to see what would make the few people who have seen this in cinemas come back for more. In the world of action, there’s no bigger crime than being dull.