When Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived on movie screens in 2014, it heralded the arrival of something fresh. Director Matthew Vaughn left his hyper-realistic projects like Layer Cake behind to indulge in a bit of pure escapism. His use of over-saturated colours was matched by over-stylised and comic violence that was backdropped by a storyline every bit as outlandish.
With his new spy yarn Argylle, Vaughn returns to the fold with all those idiosyncrasies intact. It’s a tale of world domination delivered with a sly wink and an ever-changing landscape of who is good and who is bad and what their true intentions are proven to be. Kind of like John le Carré on acid, really strong acid.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Elly Conway, a novelist who has penned a series of books based on a spy called Argylle. When she is rescued from an attack on a train by Aidan (Sam Rockwell) her real life and the contents of her books blur together most entertainingly. It keeps her character and you the audience member guessing what craziness will happen next until the very last frame.
This is unlike almost any other entrant to the spy genre. Its extravagant abuse of colour and plot marks it as something infectious and fun. If the world really is going to hell in a handbasket, one would hope that the perpetrator of this impending doom would have an aesthetic and sense of whimsey to match that of Vaughn’s.