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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Argylle: What Just Happened?

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Photo by Via IMDb
Enter the enigmatic world of “Argylle,”, a spy movie with a corresponding novel seemingly written by the fictional protagonist of the movie that had audiences suspecting Taylor Swift as the ghostwriter. Is this a timeless spy thriller or the story of an ingenious two-for one movie and novel marketing scheme gone wrong?

Rating: 6/10 

 

It is only fitting that a movie about taking down a global spy syndicate has a couple of mysteries surrounding its inception and release. While audiences naturally assumed that the movie is based on the novel “Argylle” by Elly Conway, some quick research into its timeline pokes several holes in this theory. The book “Argylle” released less than a month before the Feb. 1 movie premiere, leaving audiences questioning the purpose of the book and, more importantly, the identity of its undisclosed author — which was even suspected to be Taylor Swift for a while.

The movie “Argylle” tells the story of Elly Conway, a reclusive thriller author that gets sucked into trying to take down a global spy syndicate after her newest book unnervingly predicts the nefarious intentions of the organization. This novel that seemingly predicts the covert actions of a spy organization within the cinematic world is the same one released in the real world on Jan. 4, a month before the movie premiere, creating two simultaneous timelines that leave audiences guessing.

The first announcement of the book’s release was made on Dec. 13, 2021 from an Instagram account belonging to Elly Conway, a debuting author whose identity no one could trace. After an uncomfortably-long silence, the account’s second post came on Sep. 22, 2022, announcing that the novel had been picked up by Matthew Vaughn, a famous director with several successes like “X Men: First Class” and the “Kingsman” series, for movie production. This only fueled the confusion of fans who didn’t find it plausible that a debuting author with no clear online presence or history had been picked up by an industry giant like Vaughn.

Recent information about the movie and book has been slowly unveiling the mysteries that have shrouded the two since 2021. Vaughn admitted that “Argylle” had always been his brainchild despite years of ambiguity. Finally, the movie had its much anticipated release on Feb. 1. Its release reignited a feverish search for the real identity of Elly Conway, the protagonist of the movie and an entirely fictional character that couldn’t have written the real-life novel.

Since then, Vaughn has come forward explaining that the novel is co-authored by Terry Hayes, a screenwriter, and Tammy Cohen, a freelance journalist. Fan conspiracies about Taylor Swift or a genuine Elly Conway being the mystery author of “Argylle” have been put to rest once and for all. However, it is clear that Vaughn took inspiration from his troubled but brilliant character Agent Argylle, the protagonist of the novel. The greater the spy, the bigger the lie.

Even so, the guise of Elly Conway is still around, with posts coming from a verified Instagram account with 43,000 followers probably run by the real co-authors of the “Argylle” novel. While the concept of simultaneously releasing a movie and book under the same name from a fictional author come to life seems ingenious for blurring  the lines of fiction and reality, the movie’s success in the box office has been underwhelming. Although the movie features an exorbitant budget of $200 million, the movie has only recouped $35.3 million in ticket sales worldwide.

Despite teasing out the detective side in its viewers, the movie fails to capture the attention of its audiences because it resolves important elements of suspense in the most unrealistic manner. While the action scenes are eye-catching and colorful, the movie fails to keep up with its own twists and turns, serving the audience with unoriginal spy glam. Combined with superficial cameos from Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa and John Cena, the movie lacks logical cohesion, further exacerbating the flaws in its plot. 

What started off as a one-of-a-kind espionage movie turned into a one-time watch chick flick, not only dampening the movie’s chance of acclaim but also risking the novel’s success.

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