Mucking with Movies: 'Argylle' | – The Aspen Times

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I still love Hollywood movies where it’s just hot people doing hot-people things. I thought I was getting that.
Instead, I got “Argylle.”
There’s been a whole mini-controversy amongst internet folk with too much time on their hands, complaining that Dua Lipa and John Cena were featured on the poster but were only in less than 1% of the film. For once, I’m actually with the geeks on this – maybe I’m turning over a new leaf, maybe I’m forming a healthier relationship with the zeitgeist, or maybe it’s because the actual film sucked so much that I’m infuriated at it for wasting my time. Regardless, the hullabaloo is notable enough that I’ll address it: Objectively, it’s misleading to advertise stars for your film like they are main characters when they are only there for cameos.
So there. Speaking of insulting your audience …
So devoid of substance and effort was this film that director Matthew Vaughn didn’t even dare to use a real cat while still relying on the feline to be an emotional crux. To then have the CGI be so poorly done that the pet is so evidently fake cannot be ignored – shameful. It’s telling your audience that you think we are troglodytes incapable of deciphering authenticity.
It took me out of the film entirely – I mean, also the clunky writing, awkward acting, and half-baked directing – but here I am being asked to get invested in an animated cat that looks like my stoner friend made it freshman year in his Intro to Animation class. In the third act, the fake cat gets its heroic moment where he goes on the attack, and honestly, I was hoping that the villain was just going to punt him into the North Sea.
Stop trying to make Henry Cavill happen. I thought I would be rid of him after he almost single-handedly (shout out Zak Snyder – he deserves credit for this, too) torpedoed the Superman franchise, but he’s gotten this weird renaissance on the back of being an actual nerd. He once built his own PC! People love that stuff! Makes their idols seem relatable and genuine. Never mind that he has the charisma of crumbling brick, let’s just keep putting him in EVERYTHING. Casting him as a spoofy secret agent tasked with deadpanning his campy character’s humorous dialogue is like asking a hamster to swing a sledgehammer.
What I’m trying to say is that John Cena should have gotten the role. The world would have been better off.
The onus of terribleness should not all be on Cavill, though; he is far from the only poor performance. I didn’t think Bryan Cranston could be this bad. He must have been doing this on purpose, had to have been a prank. Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell were the center of the film and one another’s love interests, and again, usually these two are so talented they raise the minimum quality for a film – but not this time. The two had the chemistry of two rotten pumpkins being rolled toward one another. It is mind-boggling how you can have this much talent in a film, actors who have wide ranges with experience across the comedic, dramatic, and romantic spectrum, and fail them so thoroughly and so entirely.
Which brings me back to director Vaughn, who also has oodles and oodles of talent. He tried to follow the template from his “Kingsman” series but this was as if “Kingsman” was instead a limp noodle. It had all the same beats: action pieces set to the hits, vivid colors on the blueish-red side of the wheel, Samuel L. Jackson.
But, it just didn’t work.
Whether it was from studio meddling or laziness or just a bad piece of work from Vaughn, we’ll never know. Ultimately, this artistic failure has to fall on him; it was a narrative with no goals or objectives with constantly shifting desires for the protagonists and antagonists. Every time a good idea arose, such as the colored smoke for the climatic action sequence, it would be smothered by a handful of awful ones; music, choreography, costuming, etc. – all of which would be under the control of the director.
I broke down the studio release calendar however many columns ago, and this would be the prime example of a dud that they tried to release in the silence of winter. “Argylle” is destined to come and go without note. I wish to beat every copy of this film with an aluminum baseball bat.
Critic Score: 2.6/10
Jack Simon is a mogul coach and writer/director who enjoys eating food he can’t afford, traveling to places out of his budget, and creating art about skiing, eating, and traveling while broke. Check out his website to see his Jack’s Jitney travelogue series. You can email him at for inquiries of any type.

I still love Hollywood movies where it’s just hot people doing hot people things. I thought I was getting that. Instead, I got “Argylle”.

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