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‘Argylle’: Another action dud for Apple

Jack Travis
/
kuaf

‘Argylle’: Another action dud for Apple

Apple has produced some fantastic dramas with the Oscar-winning CODA and Cha Cha Real Smooth the following year. But when it comes to action films, the company’s results have failed to hit the same level of quality.

In 2023, Ghosted debuted on Apple TV+ to less-than-stellar reviews. Now, after spending $200 million to purchase the rights to another spy movie, Apple TV+ has another dud on its hands with Argylle. The only difference? This one is in theaters.

Argylle follows an introverted author named Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard). She writes popular spy novels about an agent named Argylle (Henry Cavill). But it turns out her books are somehow so accurate that they begin to predict actual espionage events around the world.

Spies then converge on Elly, trying to abduct her so she can write more books for them and predict what will happen next. The only person standing between Elly and a world of deadly killers is a spy named Aidan (Sam Rockwell). As Aidan drags Elly across the globe to figure out what will happen next, he has to protect her (and her cat) from an evil organization determined to get their hands on her next book.

Argylle boasts a stacked cast of top-notch talent from Howard and Cavill to other stars like Bryan Cranston, John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, and Catherine O’Hara. So it’s a wonder how the film managed to drown all of these talented performers with a bloated script that drags on for two hours and 20 minutes.

With sharper writing, this could have been a more entertaining premise driven by Howard’s charisma, but the movie was so dedicated to an endless series of backstabs, “surprise” twists, and double-crosses that its story got lost in the sauce. Argylle feels like being given a bowl of spaghetti, but it’s 90 percent Ragu and 10 percent noodles. At that point, just serve a bowl of tomato soup.

Even the fight choreography, where this movie could have truly excelled, is filled with standard shaky camera, a million fast cuts and edits, and sequences that last far too long for their own good. The train fight at the beginning of Argylle immediately establishes just how bloated some of the fight scenes will be throughout the film.

On top of all that, Argylle is burdened by buckets of green screen to the point that none of it feels real. The film seems generic in most of its shots, fights, and dialogue, and one has to wonder where the $200 million for this movie went. It’s a stark comparison to see how visually stunning a movie like The Creator can be with an $80 million budget while Argylle can’t manage to capture half of that movie’s artistry with more than twice the funding.

One sequence does manage to be entertaining and creative with fun gunplay, dancing, and colored smoke. But it’s a small drop of relief within this film’s larger problems.

With the release of Argylle, it’s worth asking where the Matthew Vaughn, who gave Hollywood movies like Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, went away to. The guy making Kingsman sequels isn’t as much fun to watch.

In a world that seems like more and more movies are being written by AI (hopefully that isn’t true), Argylle is yet another example of a big-budget misfire. So, the lesson for Apple in future movies should be clear: No more spies.

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Courtney Lanning is a film critic who appears weekly on <i>Ozarks At Large</i> to discuss the latest in movies.
Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large.
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