Matthew Vaughn Says MPA Rules Over Violence ‘Made Me Laugh’: ‘Head Shots Give You’ an R Rating, but ‘Chest Shots Don’t … I Don’t Understand That’

Matthew Vaughn’s directing career is largely defined by R-rated action movies, from “Kick-Ass” to his three “Kingsman” entries, but the upcoming “Argylle” finds the English filmmaker playing in the PG-13 action sandbox for the first time since 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.” Not that he ever designed his potential “Argylle” franchise to be as bloody as the “Kingsman” films.

“These are movies that didn’t need to be an R, like ‘Kick-Ass’ needed to be,” Vaughn recently told Total Film magazine while discussing the film’s rating. “The rating should be a reflection of what the film is, not trying to make a movie for a rating.”

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“We had to make a few little cuts to get it to PG-13,” he added. “Two of them annoyed the hell out of me, but, hey, ho. I was like, ‘Really, that makes it an R?’ It sort of made me laugh. I didn’t know this at the time but head shots give you an R, chest shots don’t. I said, ‘I don’t understand that because shooting someone in the chest is acceptable, but then the head is really bad?’ I don’t think most people care where you’re going to get shot. If you’re gonna get shot, you’re gonna get shot.”

The MPA often finds itself at the center of controversy for how it assesses violence in movies. Superhero movies, in particular, always get stamped with PG-13 ratings despite often featuring mass deaths. “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” for instance, riled up parents in 2022 with its PG-13 rating, as many thought the film’s bloody deaths and frequent kills weren’t appropriate for children under 13.

The star-studded “Argylle” features Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly Conway, the reclusive author of a series of best-selling espionage novels that center around the eponymous spy (Henry Cavill). Elly finds herself at the center of a real-life spy adventure after one of her books hits a bit too close to home for a global crime syndicate. The cast also features Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson.

“Argylle” opens in theaters nationwide Feb. 2 from Apple and Universal.

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