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A Selection of Films to Soothe that Action-Spy Movie Itch After Seeing ‘ARGYLLE’

Matthew Vaughn‘s (Kingsman franchise, Kick-Ass) razor-witted, reality-bending, globe-encircling spy thriller Argylle is all set to stealthily invade cinemas today.

Directed and produced by Vaughn, from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs (I Still See You), Argylle centres on Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World franchise), the reclusive author of a series of bestselling spy novels, whose definition of bliss is a quiet night at home spending quality time with her computer and her cat, Alfie. But when the storylines in Elly’s fictional books – which revolve around secret agent Argylle and his mission to unravel a global spy syndicate – begin to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organisation, those leisurely evenings at home quickly become a thing of the past.

Accompanied by Aiden (Oscar® winner Sam Rockwell), a cat-allergic spy, Elly (carrying Alfie in her backpack) races across the world to stay one step ahead of the killers as the line between Elly’s fictional world and her real one begins to blur.

The top-flight ensemble cast features Henry Cavill (“The Witcher”), John Cena (Fast X), Oscar®winner Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Grammy winning pop superstar Dua Lipa (Barbie), Emmy winner and Oscar® nominee Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Emmy winner and comedy icon Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), and the legendary Samuel L. Jackson. Alfie is played by Chip, the real-life cat of supermodel Claudia Vaughn (née Schiffer).

To celebrate the release of the film that we’re sure is bound to leave you yearning more spy-centric action, what follows is a list of films that should be able to soothe your action spy itch after watching it.

Vaughn was heavily influenced by this specific film as he recalled in press interviews how Romancing the Stone was his first succesful date and how he more recently watched it with his daughters, who enjoyed it, which lead him to create Argylle in the hopes that it would be something his daughters would enjoy.

Despite this film being described by numerous critics as a “rip-off” of Raiders of the Lost Ark (released in 1981), the original screenplay had actually been written five years earlier around 1979.

The film centres on Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a mousy romance novelist, who receives a treasure map in the mail from her recently murdered brother-in-law. Meanwhile, her sister Elaine is kidnapped in Colombia and the two criminals responsible demand that she travel to Colombia to exchange the map for her sister. Joan does, and quickly becomes lost in the jungle after being waylayed by Zolo, a vicious and corrupt Colombian cop who will stop at nothing to obtain the map. There, she meets an irreverent soldier-of-fortune named Jack Colton (Michael Doughlas) who agrees to bring her back to civilization. Together, they embark upon an adventure that could be straight out of Joan’s novels.

Sylvester Stallone was originally considered for the role of Jack T. Colton. Other leads considered include Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and Christopher Reeve for the part of Jack Colton and Debra Winger as Joan Wilder.

In hindsight, it’s hard to imagine that studio executives were so sure this film would flop that the director Robert Zemeckis was pre-emptively fired from directing Cocoon. Thankfully though, if it hadn’t been for the success of the film, Zemeckis would not have been able to go forward with his own project, Back to the Future.

This next film felt almost like a modern day Romancing the Stone and it’s just as much fun so of course we had to include it in this list. It also wears it’s influences proudly on its sleeves as the name of the book tour in this movie was “Romancing the Page.”

Directed by Aaron and Adam Nee (Band of Robbers), the film tells the tale of another reclusive author, Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) who writes about exotic places in her popular adventure novels that feature a handsome cover model named Alan (Channing Tatum). While on tour promoting her new book with Alan, Loretta gets kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who hopes she can lead him to an ancient city’s lost treasure from her latest story. Determined to prove he can be a hero in real life and not just on the pages of her books, Alan sets off to rescue her.

Curiously, just like when Romancing the Stone released at around the same time as Raiders, this one came out just after Uncharted released in movie theatres.

We’re taking things back to another cult classic, this time the one and only John Landis’ (An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, Three Amigos!) Spies Like Us, starring Chevy Case and Dan Aykroyd.

Inspired by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s “Road” movies, the film centres on two low-level government employees, Emmitt Fitz-Hume (Chase) and Austin Milbarge (Aykroyd) who are chosen for a top-secret CIA mission. They are absolutely unsuitable as CIA agents but are deliberately chosen for this very reason, as their mission is a decoy one and they are expendable. After being fast-tracked through training they are parachuted into Pakistan where all manner of adventures await them.

In an interview on Today (1952), Aykroyd stated that the movie was intended to star himself and John Belushi. Sadly Belushi’s death shortly after the interview prevented his participation.

Today we heard that the Coen brothers will soon be back with a much-anticipated production and that brought this film to mind to include in this list.

The Coens wrote all of the leading characters specifically for their huge ensemble cast, with the exception of Tilda Swinton, for this unique take on the spy thriller genre. The film focuses on a CIA analyst whose classified documents fall into the hands of a pair of oblivious gym employees who then attempt to blackmail him with hilarious and oftentimes violent consequences.

The Coens in fact wrote this screenplay at the same time there were writing the screenplay for No Country For Old Men. They would usually alternate every other day for each script.

And last but not least, we had to include Vaughn’s previous hit movie with fairly similar themes, albeit far more darker and violent than he intended with Argylle. The stylish, subversive and side-splitting Kingsman: The Secret Service centres on Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose late father secretly worked for a spy organization. He currently lives in a South London housing estate and seems headed for a life behind bars. However, dapper agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) recognizes potential in the youth and recruits him to be a trainee in the secret service. Meanwhile, villainous Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) launches a diabolical plan to solve the problem of climate change via a worldwide killing spree.

Much in the same vein as Argylle, Kingsman is a wildly entertaining romp packed with quirky characters and endless fun and action throughout.

Argylle, distributed by Universal Pictures, arrives in Cinemas 1 February 2024.

Where to watch ARGYLLE

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