In the first decade of his career, director Matthew Vaughn has had one of the most satisfying creative itineraries. After Layer Cake, he directed Stardust, a fantasy thriller for the whole family, then the irreverent Kick-Ass and a well-received X-Men film. The second decade he basically blocked with the films from the Kingsman series, equally flamboyant and forgettable. With Argylle, the director seems determined to stay on the same territory and throws on the screen a visual delirium that takes the viewer through all states, including disbelief.

There are probably many spectators who will have fun at Argylle. The film offers a star mix full of potential (Henry Cavill and John Cena in decorative roles, Bryan Cranston in a negative role, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell and Dua Lipa as the icing on the cake), explosive action, special effects and twists of a fantasy situation, everything done meticulously and projected including on the IMAX screen. And the premise – that of the author of some very popular espionage novels drawn into a global conflict when her latest novel threatens to expose an evil organization – is compelling.

It is a “fish out of water” story, an expression used by Americans to describe that type of film in which a character with a most mundane existence is catapulted into an unfamiliar context, allowing an ordinary man to have a part of extraordinary experiences and thus offering escapism and spectacle to the public.

In English, argyle means “checkered” or “plaid” (a word that came to us via French, where “ecossais” actually means “Scottish”). In Vaughn’s film, Argylle is the titular superspy, the protagonist of Elly’s novels who insists on invading, in Henry Cavill’s interpretation, the author’s “reality” on the screen. And the idea of turning an overweight writer (it’s not good to talk about the weight of actresses anymore, but Howard seems to have about 15 kilograms more than in the Jurassic Park series), anxious and aerophobic, who leads the most awkward existence with Alfie the cat, in an action heroine, definitely has comedic potential. Unfortunately the screenplay written by Jason Fuchs is so careless with believability that Argylle gradually turns from funny to shocking.

Of course, it is an unrealistic expectation to expect believability from a film like Argylle. It is, however, a film in which the heroine emerges unscathed after struggling for ten minutes in a pool of crude oil. Or she uses two knives to turn her chic ankle boots into skates and then burns her a la Surya Bonaly on the floor (metal, not ice, to be clear) of an ocean liner… When the vast majority of movies do their best not to If the viewer’s incredulity is too much to worry about, Argylle drives straight in the opposite direction, with results that have every chance of polarizing the audience.

Personally, I think Matthew Vaughn watched the Shrek series and wanted a movie with a flesh and blood Princess Fiona (the nocturnal version) accompanied by the Shoeless Man. As a different fact, Alfie is actually the Scottish Fold of the director and his wife, the famous Claudia Schiffer, helped a lot by CGI special effects. Unfortunately, the final result suffers from the many twists and turns that erode the lack of empathy you have for the characters, and the ending comes more like a sigh of relief than satisfaction.

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