(director: Matthew Vaughn; screenwriter: Jason Fuchs; cinematographer: George Richmond; editors: Lee Smith, Tom Harrison-Read; music: Lorne Balfe; cast: Bryce Dallas Howard (Elly Conway), Sam Rockwell (Aidan Wilde), Henry Caville (Argylle), Catherine O’Hara (Elly’s mom, Ruth), Bryan Cranston (Ritter, crime leader of the Directorate), Samuel L. Jackson (Alfred Solomon, asset for the good guys in France), John Cena (Wyatt, a techie), Dua Lipa (Lagrange, femme fatale), Daniel Singh (Armed Guard), Richard E. Grant (Fowler), Ariana DeBose (Keira), Sofia Boutella (Mystery Woman); Runtime: 139; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, David Reid, Jason Fuchs; Universal Pictures/Apple TV+; 2024-UK)
“Written with more twists than a fork full of spaghetti.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Brit filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (“Kingsman Trilogy”/”Kick-Ass”) directs this plodding, preposterous and laborious spy action/comedy thriller. The misfire is performed by a fine star-studded ensemble cast that tries but can’t save this convoluted mess. It’s written with more twists than a fork full of spaghetti by Jason Fuchs. It offers a satirical riff on James Bond (the story is taken from the one that featured Kathleen Turner in the 1984 “Romancing the Stone”). Its comedy is not funny, its CGI is of an inferior quality, its length is too long and its nutty unoriginal story lacks intrigue.
Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), a cat loving pet owner, residing in a cabin in the isolated mountains of Colorado, is almost finished with her latest novel but needs some help she discovers after giving it a public reading. Thereby she’s on a train bound for Chicago to get help on the last chapter from her mother (Catherine O’Hara). She’s traveling with Alfie, her computer generated Scottish fold cat in her backpack, that has a porthole to see the cat.
A passenger is seated near her, who tells her that she’s in grave danger. That person is the rogue agent Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockville). He further tells her that her plot in the latest serial edition about her hero protagonist, the super-spy Aubrey Argylle (Henry Cavill, the Brit actor who played Superman), is similar to what’s actually happening in the real world. That the bad guys have the same plot-line she does in her novel, as it involves a similar covert government organization called the Directorate, that’s headed by the corrupt, madman Ritter (Bryan Cranston). The criminal group think Elly has inside information about a flash drive that could expose their evil deeds.
Thereby the bad guys are after Elly on the train, who is helped by Aidan to elude them.
But nothing in the story is what it seems, as there are numerous plot changes and double-crosses atop of double-crosses. The pic is so illogical that even the fictional agent Argylle shows his face to help Elly bring down the bad guys by subbing for Aidan during his fight sequences.
The film is visually stylish and delivers its violent mayhem with cartoonish pizzazz, as in one fight Elly is trapped in the bathroom and we only see what’s happening by who flies past the bathroom door. In a better fight sequence, there’s a shootout amid gorgeous plumes of brightly-colored smoke.
Pop singer Dua Lipa plays a murderous femme fatale, working for the Directorate. While the miscast Bryce Dallas Howard shows no talent for the comedy her role requires. Only Rockville’s quirky performance is entertaining.
This ridiculous escapist movie was filmed with no restraint for its excesses. Its so poorly edited that you couldn’t escape from its nonsense without exiting the movie theater.
REVIEWED ON 2/5/2024 GRADE: C-