Argylle review – a colossal, cumbersome dud from director Matthew Vaughn

<span>‘What was she thinking?’ Dua Lipa with Henry Cavill in Argylle.</span><span>Photograph: Peter Mountain</span>
‘What was she thinking?’ Dua Lipa with Henry Cavill in Argylle.Photograph: Peter Mountain

A bestselling spy novelist named Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard, looking painfully ill at ease in the role) finds herself caught in the middle of a real-life espionage adventure when she is targeted, along with her permanently disgruntled pet Scottish fold cat, by a shadowy syndicate with nefarious intentions. Dishevelled stranger Aidan (Sam Rockwell) seems to be protecting her. But is he who he says he is? Is she? Is anyone? Do we care? And what was Dua Lipa thinking when she agreed to the dancefloor scene?

The latest picture from director Matthew Vaughn is a colossal, cumbersome dud. Structured as a cross between a Matryoshka doll full of shock reveals and a partially unravelled piece of knitting, it resembles the rejected, incoherent offcuts from the Kingsman series. For all its generic spy movie glitz – we zip between locations in the US, London, rural France and an aircraft carrier – it has an impoverished, synthetic feel. In particular, the special effects seem shoddy and unfinished and the screenplay struggles to keep up with its own twists and turns. The film is apparently the first in a threatened Argylle trilogy, but I won’t hold my breath for parts two and three.