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Updated: Feb 26

For several months, I've been enjoying the excellent trailers for ARGYLLE in great anticipation. It looked like an action packed, hilarious spy romp.

The first 15 minutes of the film deliver just that, with Henry Cavill's super agent Argylle's car flying across rooftops in Greece in pursuit of super baddie Lagrange, perfectly played by a stunning Dua Lipa. With John Cena and Ariana DeBose as his side kicks, Argylle is a nearly cartoonish, over-the-top secret agent out to save the world.

Then the film reveals (as did the trailers) that Argylle's missions are simply the imagination of reclusive author Elly Conway, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, Rocketman).

The concept is stolen almost entirely from 1984's "Romancing the Stone" where Kathleen Turner's reclusive, cat loving author was pulled into real life adventures with Michael Douglas's adventurer.

Writer/director Matthew Vaughn seems determined to take the solid premise and rocket it in so many directions that after a couple more hours, it become a bloated, splatter of ideas that only occasionally land.

I love many Vaughn films. "Kingsman: The Secret Service", "X-Men First Class" and "Layer Cake" are all terrific. But he's lost his mojo this time out. I often felt like there is a better film in here somewhere, albeit a much shorter one than the two hour and twenty minute version on display.

Don't get me wrong, thanks to a terrific cast, it's not all bad.

Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) is excellent as Agent Aidan Wilde, who shows up on Elly's train ride to visit her parents just before a marauding band of super agents arrive to kidnap her. The action in that train sequence is vintage Vaughn, hilariously staged and exhilarating.

Bryan Cranston nearly steals the entire movie as Ritter, the Director of the Agency out to get Elly. He's hilarious in every scene and some of his line readings made me laugh out loud.

Catherine O'Hara (Home Alone, A Mighty Wind) is a standout as Elly's Mom. As the plot twists pile up, she delivers every punch line brilliantly.

Samuel L. Jackson is fun, but almost seems to be playing himself as the head of another spy organization. He spends most of the conclusion watching the Lakers play on a giant screen while the operation takes place.

The songs that accompany the action are all inspired and fun as hell.

I'll reveal no spoilers here.

But I will say that one huge reveal left me uninspired and took the film in another direction that I never bought. That person could never do those things, period.

Totally lost me at the reveal.

Every time I was ready to completely give up, Vaughn would stage an action sequence so visually clever that he pulled me back in, but never for more than a few moments.

Overstuffed with ideas, it feels like Vaughn shoved three films worth of ideas into the running time, never leaving room for any of them to truly come to fruition.

I want to meet the team that made the trailer. Maybe they could take a crack at the actual film, to carve it into something as sleek and trim as Henry Cavill's bizarre hair style he sports throughout.

Perhaps Vaughn is just too handcuffed by the PG-13 rating to truly execute what he had in mind. I can't imagine we'll see anymore of Argylle, and I'm fine with that.

Sadly, ARGYLLE only gets a C.

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