Argylle savaged by critics: $200M Matthew Vaughn spy flick starring Dua Lipa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Henry Cavill branded one of the ‘worst movies ever made’ in brutal reviews

Matthew Vaughn’s highly-anticipated big budget film Argylle – designed to kickstart a blockbuster new spy series – has been savaged by film critics, with one branding it one of the ‘worst movies ever made’. 

The movie, which has a star-studded cast, including Bryce Dallas Howard, Dua Lipa, Henry Cavill, and Samuel L. Jackson, and cost Apple Original Films an eye-watering $200M, has been universally panned in reviews released on Wednesday.

It’s based on a recently published book of the same name, and follows the introverted spy novelist called Elly Conway (played by Howard) who is drawn into the real world of espionage when the plots of her books get a little too close to the activities of a sinister underground syndicate. 

The film was dubbed ‘one of the most expensive worst movies ever made’ by Katie Walsh from Tribune News Service, and currently holds a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

‘One of the most chaotically stupid action movies to torture audiences in ages,’ Barry Hertz from Globe and Mail said of the film. 

Critics have blasted Matthew Vaughn’s $200M spy flick Argylle as ‘one of the most expensive worst movies ever made’. The film features an A-list cast including Dua Lipa and Henry Cavill

Another reviewer branded it 'one of the most chaotically stupid action movies to torture audiences in ages'

Another reviewer branded it ‘one of the most chaotically stupid action movies to torture audiences in ages’ 

‘Its comic touch almost as heavy-handed as its slow-motion-drenched action is dull, it seems primarily designed to answer the question, “How many movie stars can one fiasco squander?”’ Nick Schager of The Daily Beast asked.

‘A talented cast trapped in an endless story with a fake cat,’ Matt Singer from ScreenCrush quipped. 

David Fear from Rolling Stone kept his review simple and to the point, writing, ‘Argylle is a bad movie. A very, very bad movie.’ 

‘It all starts to feel like one of those very expensive, very elaborate commercials for a pseudo-luxury product you don’t want to buy — a perfume perhaps, or some car,’ wrote Leslie Felperin from the Hollywood Reporter. 

Meanwhile Carla Hay from Culture Mix called the movie, ‘An incoherent, bloated mess filled with stupid plot twists, awful dialogue, and a gimmicky cat that looks fake for most of the movie. Henry Cavill is not the main star. Argylle is mostly Sam Rockwell acting smug and Bryce Dallas Howard acting terrified.’ 

Meanwhile Bryce’s performance was called ‘awful’ by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.

‘Through some terrible directing anti-alchemy, he has elicited an awful lead performance here from Bryce Dallas Howard as spy novelist Elly Conway, whose creations uncannily mirror real life.’

‘She looks waxy, inert and uncomfortable; it’s as if she is wearing cut-glass contact lenses, with a torpid, unfocused quality which the script’s big twist does not explain or excuse,’ he wrote.

However some of the critics praised Bryce’s performance as the film’s saving grace. ‘Howard tries her best to keep things lively, but she’s hampered by dull characterization,’ notes Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair.

'How many movie stars can one fiasco squander?' Nick Schager of The Daily Beast asked of the film, which has a star-studded cast

‘How many movie stars can one fiasco squander?’ Nick Schager of The Daily Beast asked of the film, which has a star-studded cast

Bryce Howard Dallas' performance was called 'awful' by The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, who wrote that she looks, 'waxy, inert and uncomfortable'

Bryce Howard Dallas’ performance was called ‘awful’ by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who wrote that she looks, ‘waxy, inert and uncomfortable’

'[Vaughn's] character template never evolved further than "Henry Cavill + wacky haircut = hilarity,"' Kevin Maher from the Times wrote

‘[Vaughn’s] character template never evolved further than “Henry Cavill + wacky haircut = hilarity,”‘ Kevin Maher from the Times wrote

The movie currently holds a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; Samuel L. Jackson seen in a still

The movie currently holds a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; Samuel L. Jackson seen in a still

'Carla Hay from Culture Mix called the movie, 'An incoherent, bloated mess filled with stupid plot twists, awful dialogue, and a gimmicky cat.'; John Cena pictured in a still

‘Carla Hay from Culture Mix called the movie, ‘An incoherent, bloated mess filled with stupid plot twists, awful dialogue, and a gimmicky cat.’; John Cena pictured in a still

Despite the negative reviews, Sam Rockwell and Bryan Cranston mostly received praise for their roles; Cranston seen in a still

Despite the negative reviews, Sam Rockwell and Bryan Cranston mostly received praise for their roles; Cranston seen in a still

He adds: ‘Argylle strains desperately hard to be kicky and twisty and raucous but mostly feels like a chore, a slog through painful gags and canned charisma.’

‘There is far too much CGI. It goes on for half an hour longer than even the most tolerant Vaughn fan will allow. And yet. Howard is so irrepressibly charming that Argylle proves hard to wholly resist,’ Donald Clarke from the Irish Times wrote.

Kevin Maher from the Times took issue with the film’s simple approach to humor.

‘It’s a testament to the low-grade lethargy that informs so much of the writing here that his character template never evolved further than “Henry Cavill + wacky haircut = hilarity,”‘ he wrote.

Despite the negative reviews, Sam Rockwell and Bryan Cranston received praise for their performances. 

The film stars Cavill as the lead Agent Argylle opposite femme fatale Dua Lipa in her feature length acting debut.

It was first announced in June 2021, with a script adapted from the novel before it was even published.

‘When I read this early draft manuscript I felt it was the most incredible and original spy franchise since Ian Fleming’s books of the 50s. This is going to reinvent the spy genre,’ Vaughn gushed.

The film, based on an adaptation of a recently published book of the same name by a writer also named Elly Conway, is set for release on February 2

The film, based on an adaptation of a recently published book of the same name by a writer also named Elly Conway, is set for release on February 2

There were even rumors that singer Taylor Swift, 34, was the secret novelist behind the book, though Vaughn has since shut that conspiracy down. 

Little has been shared about author Elly Conway – whose name is used for Bryce’s character in the film, and has been spelled interchangeably Ellie and Elly in promotional material.

On the Penguin website, Elly’s bio simply reads: ‘She lives in the United States and is currently working on the next installment in the series’. Elly’s Instagram account is empty – she only follows one person – her agent Eric Reid.

The film is set for release on February 2, 2024. 

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