Peter Mountain

YOU WILL have heard by now that Matthew Vaughn’s spy comedy thriller Argylle is not good. I have seen it and can confirm that yes, it is very bad. The jokes creak. Its CGI sequences—and oh boy, are there a lot—look hideous.

The much-hyped twists start early and vary from the extremely predictable to third series of Sherlock stupid. The big twist, the one we’re not meant to mention, got spoiled in the announcement tweet for Argylle three years ago. All five books in the apparently roaringly successfully in-universe Argylle series are apparently called ArgylleArgylle Book OneArgyle Book Two, and so on.

And, apart from anything else, you might reasonably have expected Henry Cavill to be in it for more than a few cumulative minutes of screen time as the titular Argylle. Because if you squinted—like, really really squint, like you were trying to—then you might have seen this as Cavill pitching himself for the James Bond gig. We know he was in the picture when Daniel Craig got it, and Craig won the role after impressing Barbara Broccoli in Vaughn’s Layer Cake.

Peter Mountain

The film itself hints at that too. There’s a little trill in the score nodding at ‘We Have All the Time in the World’ at one point, and a scene in Hong Kong definitely leans on Tomorrow Never Dies. He gets no quips, but for some reason Dua Lipa gets a honker even Roger Moore would have turned his eyebrow up at.

I think this might be the full stop on the Cavill For Bond thing. This is the most Bondish role he’s had yet, and he just looks all wrong. It’s not the Argylle styling; nobody could carry off a velvet nehru jacket and the haircut of a teenage Forrest Gump. It’s more that he’s just so absolutely vast. Cavill is, simply, gigantic. I have never seen a man look more huge before. There’s a shot of him from behind having destroyed most of a Greek village wearing a horrible suit, and you just think: no. That looks silly. This man in that suit is simply too silly.

And given how tonked up Craig was by No Time To Die, it feels a lot more likely the next Bond will be built more like the new school of slight, interesting, soft leading man: a Timothée Chalamet rather than a Dolph Lundgren.

More to the point, being in a second-rate Bond spoof—and given how cruddy the whole thing feels, that’s what Argylle becomes—should automatically disbar you from being the real thing. Every Bond actor made bad films before getting the role. None have made bad quasi-Bond films before getting the role. You get to do the Bond pastiche—your Spiceworlds, your every George Lazenby film—after doing the main job, not before. Otherwise it just looks rude.

The one saving grace for Cavill is that he isn’t really in Argylle very much. But in doing it, and going out to bat for Argylle through the promo rounds, it looks like he’s given up on picking up the keys to the DB5.

This story originally appeared on Esquire UK.


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