Directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class (2011); Kick-Ass (2010); Stardust (2007); Layer Cake (2004); Snatch (2000); Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)) and starring Henry Cavill (The Witcher (TV series 2019-2023); Enola Holmes (2020); Man of Steel (2013)), Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World Dominion (2022); The Help (2011); Black Mirror (TV series 2016)) and Sam Rockwell (Moon (2009); Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017); Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)), featuring Dua Lipa (Barbie (2023)).

Action/thriller; 135 mins; 13+

Argylle begins with a Bond-like action scene in which Henry Cavill (Agent Argylle) meets a mysterious stranger in a glitzy dress (Dua Lipa) in a luxurious club on a Greek island. Their flirtation and silly dancing culminate in a dangerous scene where the entire club sets out to shoot him, after which he escapes in a cloud of smoke. The woman shoots at him and his companion before an action-packed rooftop car chase – the matter alluding to a “master file” that could reveal the conspiracies of an enigmatic crime organisation.

The beginning is quite clichéd, including the character of a goody-two-shoes, lonely writer and dedicated cat owner Elly who has just published her latest “Argylle” book. The adventures turn out to be her creations – a best-selling series of spy novels with a fifth novel on the way.

Speaking to her mother, she admits that the ending to her fifth novel is not satisfactory. She agrees to go visit her and figure out the plot, and her Scottish fold cat, Alfie, joins her in a cat backpack carrier. On the train, she meets a mysterious stranger, Aidan, who warns her she should stick close to him. In a scarcely believable turn of events, a vast number of people on the train (spies?) are suddenly trying to kill her. It appears that what she has written in her books is a little too close to real-world happenings (prophetic, even). Even Aidan himself is rather similar to her eponymous hero Argylle, except that he is laid-back and American instead of suave, British (and minus the model-like appearance). They escape from the train after Aidan kills a dozen spies who were after them.

The film is entertaining and funny in a rather playful, over-the-top way, with some silly physical comedy, word games and puns. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but nevertheless exciting, full of so many twists and turns, it becomes difficult to know what to believe at one point. It is visually lush and colourful, with several eye-catching shots of nature, magnificent interiors and some rather original fight scenes (one of which features ice skating on crude oil, on an oil rig).

While it is a rather long film and aims to be more exciting and aesthetically pleasing rather than realistic, fans of cooky spy comedy films such as Knives Out (2019), Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and perhaps Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) will most likely appreciate it.