Verdict: 4.5 / 5
Ben Affleck’s strange-but-true rip-roaring thriller Argo brings his total to three out of three, a streak that has quickly boosted him up the list of the world’s most talented directors, leaving his questionable acting career a thing of the past.
It seems like just a few years ago that the Good Will Hunting co-writer was down for the count, after a few memorable missteps – Gigli, Jersey Girl and a horrendous adaptation of Daredevil. But after a directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone, followed by the acclaimed bank heist film The Town, Affleck was back. Argo is the writer-director’s best effort to date.
From the very first opening moments of Argo it’s clear that the film would be something special. Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint, it is – something very special indeed. Argo does what all films based upon true stories should: it retells the truth with conviction in the most entertaining way possible. It’s easily one of the best movies of year and all early Oscar predictions for the movie are merited.
Sometimes, just sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction. In 1979 the American embassy was overthrown during the fall of Iran. Amidst the chaos, six Americans manage to escape detection and find refuge at a nearby Canadian ambassador’s residence. With no other good ideas to rescue the group, the operation falls into the hands of CIA consultant Tony Mendez, who believes he can free them by posing as a bogus film crew. And so Argo, a fake science fiction movie with fake actors and a fake producer, is born. This remarkable, and often amusing, retelling explores the real life dangers the agent endured during his crazy mission, all the while mocking some of the absurdities of Hollywood.
As expected, the Hollywood satire is laid on thick, even though it’s most probably really accurate too. Surprisingly, the combination of the two very different moods (comedy and thriller) work well together. Argo could have you laughing during one scene and on the edge of your seat during the next. Affleck leads Argo by example, adding tension and anxiety to his character portrayal of Mendez. In fact, the entire cast ensemble is superb, most especially John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston.
This is flawless film-making. Argo is a must-see! Affleck is on the top of his game. The sky is the limit from here on out.