Argylle, Review: Spyurious stuff

Argylle, Review: Spyurious stuff

Don’t even try. To make sense of this one. It’s a tribute to James Bond, Jason Bourne, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon. That is what the makers want you to believe. Well, it’s one tribute the ‘quartet’ can do without. There is a cat in the film, getting a fair amount of footage. Maybe that’s a tribute to Solomon, the cat of the Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who appears in several 007 films, a white, blue-eyed Turkish Angora. In Argylle, it is a Scottish Fold cat, named Alfie, which belongs to the protagonist, a female novelist who has been a spy. There is so much back story to the heroine that you desperately want the film to get back to the story. Instead, it takes you on a tour of Europe and America, not to mention HongKong and some part of Arabia. And yet, Argylle misses its target by a mylle.

Elizabeth ‘Elly’ Conway is a reclusive spy author (if spies are reclusive by definition, what’s wrong with a spy author being so?). She writes about a Super Spy called Aubrey Argylle. And each of the four novels she has written have turned out be bestsellers. But there is a problem. Her plots of international espionage turn out to be predictive and prophetic. What she writes, actually happens. On a train journey (Elly has a fear of flying) to visit her parents, she is suddenly attacked a horde of men, and miraculously saved by the man sitting next to her, who reveals himself to be Aidan Wylde, a real-life spy, and a fan of hers. He tells her that she was attacked by the Division, because of the prophetic nature of her writing.

Aidan accompanies Elly to London, where, he hopes, she will lead them to the MasterKey, and thus put paid to the plans of the Division. Not sure of Aidan’s intentions, Elly calls her parents, who turn out to be Dr. Margaret Vogeler (Ruth) and Director Ritter (Barry), the bosses at the Division, who had assumed the identities of Elly’s parents when she was in their captivity, suffering from amnesia and semi-conscious. Aidan and Elly manage to dodge them and escape to France, where they meet former CIA Deputy Director, Alfie. ‘Alfie’ is short for Alfred, and has no connection with Elly’s cat, Alfie, which she takes around wherever she goes. Alfie tells Elizabeth that Argylle is derived from her real name, which is R. (Rachel) Kylle. And soon, it is all guns blazing, as the good guys try to get rid of the Division (did I hear them call it the Directorate, on a couple of occasions?).

Convoluted is a word that readily comes to mind when I look at the script by actor-writer Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Pan and Wonder Woman. By comparison, this is the first ‘realistic’ script coming from him, the others being about a legend, a super heroine and animation. Perhaps the complications arise from his desire to go overboard, in an attempt to impress. Giving the cat so much prominence, for only two worthwhile scenes, is irrational. Elizabeth Conway’s many incarnations are always two-steps ahead of the audience’s intellect. Train attacks have been filmed many times in earlier films, and cannot get much better. Why cannot spy film writers think beyond a pen-drive? And what a colossal waste of the likes of Henry Cavill (Superman, Mission Impossible, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), who is seen in apparitions by Conway, each one just a few seconds long, as the Argylle in print. One tends to agree with director Matthew Vaughn that Cavill is Bond material, but is this how you treat Bond material?

Is Matthew Vaughn the son of actor Robert Vaughn? No, says a paternity test. It is a bit complicated, like Argylle, but his full name(s) is/are Matthew Allard de Vere Drummond (born Matthew Allard Robert Vaughn; 7 March 1971), and is known as Matthew Vaughn, professionally. Many of us know him as Kingsman or King’s Man. Producer, Executive producer, writer and director, Vaughn also directed the X-Men: First Class. Notching 15 films as producer and only 10 as director, Vaughn appears to be smitten by the spy genre. After three Kingsman films, we now have the fourth, Argylle, which he also produced, like the Kingsman series and the X-Men film.

For most of Argylle, the director seems to be unsure whether it is to be a comedy, a spoof or an original spy thriller. Yes, the transformation of Elly from a house-wife-like character into a fighting mean machine persona is a mild tour de force. And just when you have written off Alfie, the cat, as a mere ‘passenger’, she gets to the eyes (literally). Aidan is not very convincing as the superhuman spy, and the role needed better casting. The title itself is not attractive, and the 139 minutes’ length gets to you. He brings back his Stardust actor Henry Cavill, only as a figment of Elly’s imagination. Fights are often unrealistic, with a dozen or more gunmen pouncing on one or two protagonists, and failing to match them. Alfie raises one laugh when he bounces from a mattress on a road up to a high storey window. The dance sequence is impressive and sensual.

Discovered by M. Night Shyamalam, and cast in two of his films, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Rocketman) is the daughter of actor-director Ron Howard. Elly Conway looks the dowdy novelist Elizabeth Conway, and metamorphoses into Rachel Kylle with ease. Both Bryce (42) and Sam Rockwell (Aidan), who is 55, belie their age. The villain-in-chief, Ritter, and his female half, Dr. Margaret Vogler, are played by Bryan Cranston and Catherine O’Hara. Both are made to behave in a clichéd manner, perhaps in the hope that they will come across as comedians. Nothing doing. Richard E. Grant plays Fowler, Ritter’s book counterpart in the Argylle novels. Samuel L. Jackson as Alfie could have sleep-walked into this role. And Sofia Boutella as Saba Al-Badr is completely dispensable to the plot.

Cinematography is by George Richmond and the film is edited by Lee Smith, Tom Harrison-Read and Col Goudie, with music by Lorne Balfe. An Apple Original Films production there is neither any juicy apple in it nor originality. In fact, everybody who likes originality should keep away from this spyurious stuff.

Rating: **

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mgu9mNZ8Hk

Argylle, Review: Spyurious stuff
Don’t even try. To make sense of this one. It’s a tribute to James Bond, Jason Bourne, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon. That is what the makers want you to believe. Well, it’s one tribute the ‘quartet’ can do without. There is a cat in the film, getting a fair amount of footage. Maybe that’s a tribute to Solomon, the cat of the Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who appears in several 007 films, a white, blue-eyed Turkish Angora. In Argylle, it is a Scottish Fold cat, named Alfie, which belongs to the protagonist, a female novelist who has been a spy. There is so much back story to the heroine that you desperately want the film to get back to the story. Instead, it takes you on a tour of Europe and America, not to mention HongKong and some part of Arabia. And yet, Argylle misses its target by a mylle.
Elizabeth ‘Elly’ Conway is a reclusive spy author (if spies are reclusive by definition, what’s wrong with a spy author being so?). She writes about a Super Spy called Aubrey Argylle. And each of the four novels she has written have turned out be bestsellers. But there is a problem. Her plots of international espionage turn out to be predictive and prophetic. What she writes, actually happens. On a train journey (Elly has a fear of flying) to visit her parents, she is suddenly attacked a horde of men, and miraculously saved by the man sitting next to her, who reveals himself to be Aidan Wylde, a real-life spy, and a fan of hers. He tells her that she was attacked by the Division, because of the prophetic nature of her writing.
Aidan accompanies Elly to London, where, he hopes, she will lead them to the MasterKey, and thus put paid to the plans of the Division. Not sure of Aidan’s intentions, Elly calls her parents, who turn out to be Dr. Margaret Vogeler (Ruth) and Director Ritter (Barry), the bosses at the Division, who had assumed the identities of Elly’s parents when she was in their captivity, suffering from amnesia and semi-conscious. Aidan and Elly manage to dodge them and escape to France, where they meet former CIA Deputy Director, Alfie. ‘Alfie’ is short for Alfred, and has no connection with Elly’s cat, Alfie, which she takes around wherever she goes. Alfie tells Elizabeth that Argylle is derived from her real name, which is R. (Rachel) Kylle. And soon, it is all guns blazing, as the good guys try to get rid of the Division (did I hear them call it the Directorate, on a couple of occasions?).
Convoluted is a word that readily comes to mind when I look at the script by actor-writer Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Pan and Wonder Woman. By comparison, this is the first ‘realistic’ script coming from him, the others being about a legend, a super heroine and animation. Perhaps the complications arise from his desire to go overboard, in an attempt to impress. Giving the cat so much prominence, for only two worthwhile scenes, is irrational. Elizabeth Conway’s many incarnations are always two-steps ahead of the audience’s intellect. Train attacks have been filmed many times in earlier films, and cannot get much better. Why cannot spy film writers think beyond a pen-drive? And what a colossal waste of the likes of Henry Cavill (Superman, Mission Impossible, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), who is seen in apparitions by Conway, each one just a few seconds long, as the Argylle in print. One tends to agree with director Matthew Vaughn that Cavill is Bond material, but is this how you treat Bond material?
Is Matthew Vaughn the son of actor Robert Vaughn? No, says a paternity test. It is a bit complicated, like Argylle, but his full name(s) is/are Matthew Allard de Vere Drummond (born Matthew Allard Robert Vaughn; 7 March 1971), and is known as Matthew Vaughn, professionally. Many of us know him as Kingsman or King’s Man. Producer, Executive producer, writer and director, Vaughn also directed the X-Men: First Class. Notching 15 films as producer and only 10 as director, Vaughn appears to be smitten by the spy genre. After three Kingsman films, we now have the fourth, Argylle, which he also produced, like the Kingsman series and the X-Men film.
For most of Argylle, the director seems to be unsure whether it is to be a comedy, a spoof or an original spy thriller. Yes, the transformation of Elly from a house-wife-like character into a fighting mean machine persona is a mild tour de force. And just when you have written off Alfie, the cat, as a mere ‘passenger’, she gets to the eyes (literally). Aidan is not very convincing as the superhuman spy, and the role needed better casting. The title itself is not attractive, and the 139 minutes’ length gets to you. He brings back his Stardust actor Henry Cavill, only as a figment of Elly’s imagination. Fights are often unrealistic, with a dozen or more gunmen pouncing on one or two protagonists, and failing to match them. Alfie raises one laugh when he bounces from a mattress on a road up to a high storey window. The dance sequence is impressive and sensual.
Discovered by M. Night Shyamalam, and cast in two of his films, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Rocketman) is the daughter of actor-director Ron Howard. Elly Conway looks the dowdy novelist Elizabeth Conway, and metamorphoses into Rachel Kylle with ease. Both Bryce (42) and Sam Rockwell (Aidan), who is 55, belie their age. The villain-in-chief, Ritter, and his female half, Dr. Margaret Vogler, are played by Bryan Cranston and Catherine O’Hara. Both are made to behave in a clichéd manner, perhaps in the hope that they will come across as comedians. Nothing doing. Richard E. Grant plays Fowler, Ritter’s book counterpart in the Argylle novels. Samuel L. Jackson as Alfie could have sleep-walked into this role. And Sofia Boutella as Saba Al-Badr is completely dispensable to the plot.
Cinematography is by George Richmond and the film is edited by Lee Smith, Tom Harrison-Read and Col Goudie, with music by Lorne Balfe. An Apple Original Films production there is neither any juicy apple in it nor originality. In fact, everybody who likes originality should keep away from this spyurious stuff.
Rating: **
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mgu9mNZ8Hk  Read More

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