Matthew Vaughn: From Worst to Best

Matthew Vaughn at New York Comic-Con

A ranking of director Matthew Vaughn’s filmography from the Worst to the Best.

Matthew Vaughn at New York Comic-Con
Matthew Vaughn at New York Comic-Con

Starting as a producer for director Guy Ritchie, before springing off on his own, filmmaker Matthew Vaughn has directed a total of seven films, written or co-written another seven films, and has produced a total of 26 films. The films ranges from spies to superheroes to even drug dealers. Now, with his latest film “Argylle” headed to theaters, that number has become eight. To celebrate its release, we’re going to rank all his films (including Argylle) from the worst to the best.

Matthew vaughn’s WORST

8.) Kingsmen: The Golden Circle (2017)

20th Century Studios

With Kingsmen: The Golden Circle, the follow-up to 2015’s Kingsmen: The Secret Service, despite having some good moments was a step-down from the original. The main reason why though is due to “Men in Black II ” syndrome, where you try and revive the status quo by destroying the all the gains it made. An example of this is in 1997’s Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K decides to retire. Thus, setting up Will Smith’s Agent J and Linda Fiorentino’s Agent L to become the new leads of the franchise.

This is jettisoned out the window by the time Men in Black II rolls around, as Agent J brings Agent K back into the fold. A similar thing happens in The Golden Circle, where the Kingsmen headquarters is destroyed along with Roxy (Sophie Cookson), a prominent character in the first movie, dies. Not to mention, they bring back Harry Hart (Colin Firth) after he died in the first movie. Furthermore, by not following through on the first film’s change to the status quo, the film (and the franchise) as a whole suffers.

7.) The King’s Man (2021)

20th Century Studios

Delayed multiple times due to the 2020 pandemic, The King’s Man is an interesting barrage of plot points. Some that connect and some that don’t connect. However, there are some surprising moments, such as (SPOILER ALERT) the death of Harris Dickinson’s Conrad Oxford. In addition, the action sequences were well-done with highlights including the silent WWI trench fight and the fight with Rhys Ifans’ Rasputin. Yet, the film suffers from a bloated runtime and a story that doesn’t come fully together.

6.) Argylle (2024)

Universal Pictures

With Argylle, Vaughn only has a directing credit, as the script was written by Jason Fuchs. However, the film is permeated by Vaughn’s style to a degree, complete with shoot-outs, extended action sequences to popular music, and of course spies. But, one bit of Vaughn’s style that is missing is an R-rating. Unfortunately, this makes some of the more harrowing action sequences have less impact. Another criticism with the film is that, it suffers from a bloated runtime which drags the film out. Despite this though, a charming Henry Cavill, decent chemistry between Sam Rockwell & Bryce Dallas Howard, and a hilarious performance from Catherine O’Hara, makes this middling entry from Vaughn, a decent time at the movies.


5.) Layer Cake (2004)

Similar to Argylle, Layer Cake was not written by Vaughn but J.J. Connelly, who also wrote the novel. But, as his first outing as a director, the film is brimmed with Vaughn’s style. With dynamic editing and his use of popular music taking center stage. And complete with an enigmatic cast, led by 007 himself Daniel Craig, Vaughn knocks it out of the park. Also, this scene:

4.) Kingsmen: The Secret Service (2015)

When it comes to Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman takes the board strokes of the Mark Millar comic of the same name and mix it with a Trading Places-like premise, crafting a delightfully fun and violent spy comedy. One that homages the Roger Moore era of James Bond films. This while having star-studded performances from Taron Egerton and Colin Firth and you have one of Vaughn’s best films. Especially one of his best films in the genre. Also, it has one of the best long-take action scenes of all time:

3.) X-Men: First Class (2011)

But, the film that started Vaughn’s foray in the Spy genre, can be traced back to this prequel (?)/reboot of Marvel Comics’ Merry Band of Mutants. And in particular one scene, which feels ripped out of a James Bond film.

Additionally, by placing the film during the real-life event of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vaughn and company not only give the film a sense of urgency, but also a sense of authenticity. Which is needed for a film within the Spy genre. Combined with fantastic star-making performances from Fassbender and James McAvoy as Magneto and Professor X respectively and you got yourself one of the better films in the franchise.

2.) Stardust

Based on Neil Gaiman’s comic of the same name, Stardust is one of those films like 1987’s The Princess Bride, where you put it on and you’re instantly transported into another world. Plus, you have a rich cast, which includes a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox, pre-Homeland Claire Danes, a hilarious and against type Robert De Niro, and a stunning, yet terrifying Michelle Pfeiffer. Besides them, Mark Strong, Ben Barnes, Ricky Gervais, and a certain Agent Argylle in Henry Cavill, would all make their introductions to audiences across the pond. With all of that, you have essentially the perfect film. But, not Vaughn’s best film….

1.) Kick-Ass (2010)

That honor would go to 2010’s Kick-Ass. Adapted from the Mark Millar comic, Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman asks the question “What would happen if someone in the real world became a superhero?” The answer would be a hyper-fun, hyper-violent tale with insane action, star-making performances in Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Moretz, a memorable soundtrack, resulting in a great time from beginning to end. Thus, making it Matthew Vaughn’s best film to date.

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