Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Review: “Argylle” (hopefully) signals the collapse of the modern blockbuster

Bryce+Dallas+Howard+and+Sam+Rockwell+star+in+Argylle%2C+directed+by+Matthew+Vaughn.
Universal Pictures
Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell star in “Argylle,” directed by Matthew Vaughn.

As I sat down to watch “Argylle,” I felt a wave of excitement rush over me. Not because of anything in the movie itself (in fact, the night before I was regretting my decision to see it), but because it meant I would never have to see that awful trailer again. By this point, I had already had the real agent Argylle’s identity spoiled for me (from a 2021 press release, no less) and truthfully, I no longer cared.

“Argylle” follows a shy, anxiety-ridden author of spy novels named Elle Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) who gets caught up in events of real-world espionage when her stories are revealed to mirror the actions of real spy organizations. 

For some inexplicable reason, this $200m globe-trotting spy adventure seems almost entirely shot on green screen any time it leaves the confines of its small sets, to hideous results. Like the anti-“Mission: Impossible,” it seems to be doing anything in its power to not just shoot something for real.

The glossy, digital cinematography combined with these CGI locations leads to everything on screen feeling fake, all of the time. Even the fight scenes, which are some of the only things that I somewhat bought into are filled with strange cuts and effects that took me right out of it (Henry Cavill’s Argylle keeps appearing as a vision to Conway during every fight).

That’s not to speak of the Variable Frame Rate (VFR) I was treated to in AMC’s Dolby Cinema, which was essentially built-in motion smoothing now in the theater. Props to whoever decided to add everyone’s favorite setting to disable on their home TV to theater projectors. Whenever the movie briefly jumped to 48 frames per second to smooth out some movement, I was immediately taken out of the film (and felt like I was losing my mind, since nobody had been talking about this before the movie’s release).

The movie is filled with so many twists it’s impossible to keep track of, and it doesn’t help that there’s no distinguishing between which twists are winking and playful vs. which you are actually supposed to buy into. And instead of just leaving it as a twisty “meta” spy thriller, director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jason Fuchs also want you to buy into a serious romance between the leads, yet another artificial, forced plotline to keep track of.

The characters all feel so broad and impossible to believe in. There’s never even a semblance of reality in them. Howard is fine as a writer/cat lady, but her transition to “badass” spy can never land. Sam Rockwell’s Aiden is fun but feels wasted in a movie this bad. The many cameos/supporting characters (Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson) are perfectly fine.

By the time the credits rolled and the confusing post-credits scene began, I was exhausted. Almost every time I (very infrequently) found something to enjoy in “Argylle” it either ended quickly or got caught up in some mess of plot twists or awful effects. I’m not sure there’s anyone I would recommend “Argylle” to except maybe Matthew Vaughn fans, who do not exist.

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About the Contributor
Mack Gowan
Mack Gowan, Opinions Editor
Mack Gowan is the opinions editor for Central Times. Mack is a senior and this is his third year on staff. He loves putting information all over his stories. In his free time, he enjoys solving puzzles, cooking and listening to Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins as well as Bladee. Mack wants to be a filmmaker when he grows up.
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