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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 21, 2024

“Argylle”: $200 million down the drain

For+a+ridiculous+runtime+of+two+hours+and+19+minutes%2C+%E2%80%9CArgylle%E2%80%9D+humiliates+those+involved+while+falling+into+all+the+blockbuster+trappings+that+continue+to+jade+audiences.%0A
@bleedingcool
For a ridiculous runtime of two hours and 19 minutes, “Argylle” humiliates those involved while falling into all the blockbuster trappings that continue to jade audiences.

★★☆☆☆

 

It’s time for audiences to meet a real cinematic misfire.

In “Argylle,” espionage author Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) goes on the run after the events in her latest book predict the future. With a real-life secret intelligence organization, the Division, in pursuit, Elly has no choice but to team up with agent Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell) to uncover the mystery of her writing and what the Division wants with her. 

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With a wild premise and plenty of star power, “Argylle” had the opportunity to sweep audiences away with a fresh spin on the typical globetrotting spy adventure. Unfortunately, the film quickly abandons its original premise, revealing itself to be nothing new. For a ridiculous runtime of two hours and 19 minutes, “Argylle” humiliates those involved while falling into all the blockbuster trappings that continue to jade audiences.

Director Matthew Vaughn once again fails to live up to his past achievements. While his early 2010s films like “Kick-Ass,” “X-Men: First Class” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service” showed his potential as a powerhouse filmmaker, his latest has destroyed any trust in him. Vaughn works with a specific bag of tricks — a hyperactive visual style, swiftly savage action and shameless vulgarity — but given the film’s PG-13 rating and $200 million budget, he’s handcuffed away from his usual devices. 

A glossy sheen smears the entire movie, and the cartoonish effects at the forefront of Vaughn’s action force him to cut around the moments of hard-hitting combat. Though the massive budget theoretically should have made the film look better, it ultimately fails to do anything more than exaggerate every sequence. 

Similarly, the storytelling is messy. The film’s coherency flies off the rails as the spy mission chugs into motion. Almost every 10 minutes, writer Jason Fuchs throws a massive twist at the audience that’s inconceivable and distracting. More often than not, his reveals lack any ramifications except further disruption to the overall pacing. While “Argylle” attempts to exist in a heightened reality, Fuchs still has no excuse to abandon all narrative rules and lazily steer the plot wherever he wants.

Through their performances, Howard and Rockwell try their hardest to salvage this project but woefully end up hurting each other. Howard nails the introverted writer dropped into an intense world of espionage, but her character deteriorates as she embraces her fish-out-of-water state. Vaughn tries to have Howard match Rockwell’s rapid-fire line delivery and effortless charisma, but few actors can. 

Howard flounders in her action sequences, slowing down a much more convincing Rockwell. The script is so determined to keep this pair on the same wavelength that it forgets these actors and characters have dissimilar talents. Because Elly is a spy novelist, her knowledge of the genre could’ve made her more sneaky and resourceful, complimenting Aidan’s straightforward and combative behavior. In reality, neither actor nor character is used to their fullest potential. 

Additionally, audiences coming for the ensemble cast will leave brutally disappointed. When the major stars appear on screen, they either exit just as quickly or give humiliating performances. It’s baffling that Academy Award-winning actress Ariana DeBose only has five minutes of screen time, and Bryan Cranston cringingly chews the scenery as the supreme leader of the Division. These mishaps shouldn’t happen with such competent talent who certainly have better instincts than to take on a project like this.

“Argylle” is fumbled filmmaking and a dud that wastes its budget from Apple Original Films and the money of filmgoers who paid to see it. There is no longer an excuse for Hollywood to green-light massive productions with sub-par scripts; they burn resources and talent that could thrive elsewhere. Perhaps most frustratingly, Vaughn has officially made his bed as a declining filmmaker, with his third misfire in the past seven years. For a film that throws so much at the screen, the most exhilarating part is leaving the theater as the credits roll.

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About the Contributor
Rylan Ammerman
Rylan Ammerman, Opinion Writer
Grade 12 Why did you join The B&W? To share my opinions and passions with the community. What is your favorite song? You Make My Dreams (Daryl Hall and John Oates)

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