The Cat Can't Save You: Argylle (2023) - Reviewed

Images courtesy Apple Original Films


Matthew Vaughn returns to his chosen medium with another high-octane action film centered on espionage, double crosses, and insanely choreographed fight scenes. 

The resulting product is one that fits perfectly into the late January dumping ground of big studio dreck. It's a soulless endeavor that lacks any luster or sheen on its over-glorification of terribly rendered computer generated environments and absolute lack of chemistry between his two leads, Bryce Dallas Howard and one Sam Rockwell, who for all intents and purposes uplifts any middling effort he may be starring in. He's the best part of Argylle and that's honestly not saying much. 

Latching on to the same type of off-beat plotting that he's used in all of The Kingsman movies, Argylle starts off relatively strong but quickly relents into repetition and an unlimited series of action scenes that just feel old hat. He's done this all before. And unfortunately for his audience, it's beginning to wear thin. With a cast like this, there was so much more that could have been done creatively. When you have a bored Bryan Cranston doing nothing, you know your film has major issues. 

This is a send up of sorts that cashes in on James Bond and Jason Bourne tropes but really fails to deliver anything fresh or exciting. After the nearly abysmal Kingsman:The Golden Circle, Vaughn continues to slip down his own rabbit hole of creative ineptitude. With upcoming plans on the horizon to make a new series of Kick Ass movies, our hope is that he can get out of his own way and try to remember what characters are. Argylle really does rest on the shoulders of Sam Rockwell's sense of comedic timing and quick wit. That's the only thing that keeps this interesting or semi-watchable. Not to discount Bryce Dallas Howard's acting skills, but she just doesn't ever seem to fully slip into this role. 

Vaughn definitely has his own aesthetic with his original films, but this time around it just doesn't work. At times, Argylle will absolutely frustrate the audience because it plays the same jokes over and over again, using the cat for comic relief during scenes of overused and over-stylized action. Much of the movie is a tongue in cheek satire of spy movies over the years and it does check all the boxes in that realm, but it's stuffed to the brim with plot twists that just don't really need to be there. The script is dull at best, even with Rockwell's dedication to making the best of what he's got to work with. It's not as smart as Vaughn thinks it is. In fact, brain cells were systematically destroyed during this viewing. 

Argylle is another studio picture that got relinquished to the cinematic dead zone as it deserves. Even the bit of fun that could be had with this movie is stomped out and crushed by poor writing techniques and copycat plot points.