★★★★

Director Matthew Vaughn steps away from his Kingsman duties to offer a different kind of spy thriller in Argylle. Taking the script Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) penned and running wildly with it, he’s created a memorable action-comedy that provides several moments of uncontrollable laughter with more twists than a pretzel, and a story presented more deeply than the genre usually provides.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the author of the popular spy novel series, Argylle. But she doesn’t just write the books; she sees her character Argylle (Henry Cavill) as she pens them. After finishing up the fifth book in the series, Elly talks to her mother, Ruth (Catherine O’Hara), who tells her the book needs one more chapter. They plan on getting together, but before that happens, Elly is approached by Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell), who protects her from a bevy of assassins and informs her that they’re after her because what she writes predicts movements in the international spy world. Although skeptical at the possibility, Elly cannot deny that someone is trying to murder her; so, she reluctantly goes with him. Now, the two will work together to try to solve the mystery by getting that final chapter written.

If this description seems convoluted and involved, you haven’t seen anything yet. While having a bit of an Austin Powers feel (including disco music), Fuchs digs deeply to make this film transcend the average spy comedy. The story rivals any good espionage thriller in both the depth of the story and unpredictability. Viewers who revel in figuring out the twists will often think they have it all sorted out, only to be shocked by what happens next. The entire cast is all-in on the joke, playing their characters up for all they’re worth. Howard is particularly fantastic in every aspect of her character. Rockwell gets to have the most fun, though, as the often-put-upon protector of a flighty author and a cat that seems to hate him. And even if the rest of the film were terrible, their colorful mutual escape scene to the sound of disco music is worth the entire cost of admission.

Because part of the action takes place in the fantasy world of Elly’s books and part of it involves Elly and Aiden on international travel, audiences are treated to some beautiful scenery, shot well and in such a way as to not lose the viewer, even throughout intense action scenes. These latter scenes play out with the accompaniment of perfectly matched songs, often classics of the funk era. The rest of the soundtrack keeps the film moving most of the time, although a few moments drag or seem out of place, regardless of the soundtrack.

Argylle is a different kind of animal in the comedy/drama realm. Part Kingsman, part Austin Powers, and Part Mission: Impossible, with dashes of In Like Flint, Romancing the Stone, and James Bond, there is sure to be something entertaining here for fans of any of these. Because of this, there’s so much more than can be said about this film, but that would be letting the cat out of the bag.