Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell and Henry Cavill star in 'Argylle,' in theaters now
NOTE: This story contains major spoilers for Argylle, in theaters now.
Posters for Argylle, a new spy thriller from Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn, promise a major plot twist: "Once you know the secret, don't let the cat out of the bag." (It's also a nod to the pet cat that spends much of the film in a backpack.)
The movie begins with Bryce Dallas Howard as a famous author named Elly Conway, who spends her reclusive life writing spy novels, her mother (Catherine O'Hara) serving as her long-distance beta reader.
After meeting a real-life spy on a train — Sam Rockwell's Aidan — Elly finds herself in the middle of high-stakes espionage similar to her books. In fact, the villainous Ritter (Bryan Cranston) wants to catch Elly since her spy novels have proven to be predictive of actual global events.
Fans know all of the above from the trailers. It's a surprise plot twist revealed halfway into the film, though, that shakes things up: Elly is actually a highly-trained, elite spy with amnesia, and her book storylines are her memories (and valuable top-secret intel) spilling out from her subconscious. Even she can't believe the truth at first.
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The twist is not unlike the 1996 Geena Davis film The Long Kiss Goodnight, which also starred Samuel L. Jackson. Here, Jackson is former CIA deputy director Alfred Solomon, the one who helps Elly remember she is Rachel, aka Agent R.
Meanwhile, Cranston is revealed to be the man Elly thought to be her father. He infiltrated her fake life and brainwashed Rachel into taking on the Elly persona with help from O'Hara's "Ruth," also undercover, not her real mom.
Howard's character Rachel, after some back-and-forth allegiance-switching, remembers her impressive skills and which side she's on, ultimately saving the day at the last possible minute.
Then, she resumes her forgotten romance with Aidan and goes back to being a writer. At one of her author speaking engagements in the final moments of the movie, Cavill pops up in the crowd, no longer just the fantasy spy stand-in imagined by Elly — setting up more questions for a sequel.
Director Vaughn previously expressed wanting to make an expanded cinematic universe of spy films. He's behind 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle and the 2021 prequel The King’s Man. (Jackson and Sofia Boutella appear in both Argylle and Kingsman films as different characters.)
A mid-credits scene shows a flashback featuring a man named Aubrey Argylle and a bar called The King's Man. It's also a connection to the movie tie-in book Argylle, available in real life, with "Elly Conway" ID'd as its author. (No, Taylor Swift did not write it, the cast and crew promise.)
In a Variety interview, when asked about a potential sequel, Rockwell said “I guess we just want to see how it does,” as Cavill added that it "all depends on whether the audience likes what we've done. ... If Matthew comes calling, I’d certainly say yes."
About future Argylle installments, Vaughn recently told Total Film, "This has been a very enjoyable experience and one that I'd love to continue playing in, and I know the actors would love to continue. So that is up to the public, if they give us a thumbs up, we will give them another one. If they give us a thumbs down, we will just, you know, imagine what it would have been like."
Back in 2022, Jurassic World star Howard teased that she was excited to show off her action skills in Argylle, though she couldn't elaborate on her top-secret character arc at the time. She described the film as "pretty bananas."
"I would love to [do more action films], yes. I just finished filming a Matthew Vaughn film that had a tremendous amount of action," she said at the time. "I was very, very, very excited about that because I have a background in martial arts. So I was like, 'Okay, it only took like 30 years, but it's fine. I'm throwing a punch!' "
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