This article contains full spoilers for Argylle.
Early in the Matthew Vaughn spy thriller/comedy Argylle, actual secret agent Aiden (Sam Rockwell) needs to calm writer of secret agents Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard). Aiden leans in and calmly tells a story about a mission that required him to scale a tremendous height. Rather than look down, Aiden explains, you just have to look at what’s ahead. “What’s right in front of you, Elly?” he asks, staring directly at the camera.
Argylle might not have the same bratty sense of humor that marked Kick-Ass or Kingsman: The Secret Service, but audiences might feel that Vaughn is trolling them in that scene. For months now, trailers for Argylle have teased an amazing twist, suggesting that the real Agent Argylle is something special, something they are not going to want to miss.
But you would have to be really inattentive to miss the reveal. Because, as Aiden says, it’s right in front of you.
What is Agent Argylle?
Within the world of Argylle, Agent Argylle is the main character of a hit book series written by Conway. Vaughn portrays that fictional world with sequences in which Henry Cavill, completely wooden despite his Vanilla Ice hair-do, is a smooth, Bond-esque spy who works alongside his tech guy Wyatt (John Cena), chases evil agent LaGrange (Dua Lipa), and gets betrayed by handler Fowler (Richard E. Grant).
In addition to being a Twilight-level sensation, the book series also draws the interest of a real organization operated by the evil Ritter (Bryan Cranston) because Elly seems to predict real-world events with her writing. If Ritter can read the final chapter of Elly’s fifth novel, then he’ll be able to find a powerful code key and, I dunno, rule the world?
The first half of Argylle involves Aiden trying earn Elly’s trust while fighting off Ritter’s agents. Finally, Aiden takes Elly to meet former CIA head Alfred Solomon (Samuel L. Jackson) at the latter’s remote vineyard base. “It’s time to meet the real Agent Argyle,” says Solomon as he leads Elly, and the viewer, into his control room.
Who is Agent Argylle?
It’s Elly. Agent Argylle is Elly. Okay, actually, Agent Argylle is Agent R. Kylle or Agent Rachel Kylle.
Before the skating accident that, according to Elly, gave her the time to finally start writing, Agent Rachel Kylle was one of the smartest and deadliest operatives on Solomon’s team. However, after a mission gone sideways, Kylle ended up in the hospital. There, Ritter and his henchwoman (Catherine O’Hara) brainwash Kylle, convincing her that she is the timid future writer Elly Conway and that they are her kindly parents.
Elly’s books didn’t predict the future, Aiden later explains. They describe R. Kylle’s missions in the past, up to the one she was doing when she had her memory wiping accident. If Ritter can get Elly to write the end of the fifth novel, then he can learn the whereabouts of the secret hacker code key and rule the world or whatever.
Of course, Aiden has his own interest in the reveal. He was both R. Kylle’s partner and her lover, and has spent the past five years looking for a way to get her back. However, he does not know that she was in fact a double-agent, one who planned to betray Aiden and Solomon to Ritter, adding a second twist to Argylle’s identity.
What About Taylor Swift?
The interest in Agent Argylle’s identity can’t all be blamed on the trailer beating us into submission. It also comes from a Blair Witch Project-style promotion in which a real novel called Argylle, written by Elly Conway, was released by Penguin Random House. Vaughn, screenwriter Jason Fuchs, and other interested parties leaked to the press that Elly Conway was in fact a celebrity working under a pseudonym.
The ploy worked, with people speculating that the secretive celebrity author would appear in the movie as the real Agent Argylle. And when rumors were spread that Taylor Swift was the real Elly Conway, many hoped that she would be a surprise part of the movie’s cast.
No, Taylor Swift does not appear in Argylle. Heck, fellow pop star Dua Lipa only appears in a handful of scenes, as do Cena, Cavill, and an insultingly underused Ariana DeBose and other actors in the fantasy sections of the movie. Furthermore, a Swift appearance wouldn’t help the very bad Argylle, as demonstrated by the other terrible movies that have Swift credits, such as Cats and Amsterdam.
That said, the twist does improve Argylle, slightly. As I griped in my review of the movie, the first half wastes the potential fun in contrasting the real world and fantasy worlds of espionage. In particular, I complained that the real Aiden acts just like the fantasy Argylle. After the reveal, it becomes clear that Aiden acts just like Argylle because the fake spy is based on Aiden. At least, that does make sense, until the movie then goes on to say that Argylle is based on R. Kylle, and the doofy muscleman Wyatt is based on Aiden, killing that bit of credit that I was willing to give the flick.
All in all, everything involving Agent Argylle’s identity is like the film itself: a noisy and disappointing missed opportunity.
Does Argylle Have a Post-Credit Sequence?
The movie ends with Elly having published her final Argylle book, cleverly titled “Book Five.” But Vaughn clearly has more in mind for the franchise. Midway through the credits, we cut to a pub called The King’s Man, with a chyron on the screen declaring, “20 Years Earlier.” There, a skinny young punk wearing the same Hot Topic by way of Five Below t-shirt sported by Aiden walks up to the bar and orders a drink. The two engage in double-meaning banter until the barkeep asks the boy’s name.
“Argylle,” he answers. “Aubrey Argylle.”
Does this mean that the Kingsman movies are based on books written by Elly Conway, too? Does it mean that R. Kylle and Aiden live within the Kingsman universe? Are we seeing a Kingsman movie made in the Argylle universe, based on Elly Conway books?
Like Aiden suggested, the best way to deal with all of these questions is to look at what’s right in front of you. And right in front of anyone watching Argylle is a movie that doesn’t pay off any of the interesting ideas it sets up.
Argylle is out in theaters now. It’s coming to Apple TV+ at a later date.