Argo review – DMU’s James Stevens

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James Stevens

Not content with being a leading man and A-lister in Hollywood, Ben Affleck has recently turned into quite the film director. Affleck is back with his third feature film as director following Gone, Baby, Gone and The Town with his latest. Argo is the true story of the Iranian hostage crisis, in which 52 American embassy personnel were imprisoned from 1979 to 1981 in Tehran. However, 6 of the hostages managed to flee the embassy and wind up in the Canadian ambassadors house. With nowhere to turn and no escape, a small CIA team headed by Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting) and the brilliant Bryan Cranston (Drive) decide the only way to get them safely back to the US, is by making a fake sci-fi movie with some Hollywood bigwigs backing them and the 6 hostages acting as film crew for the movie. So it looks like Ben Affleck is finally putting that degree he has in Middle Eastern affairs to good use then.

Argo has three very distinct settings. DC, Hollywood and Tehran. The biggest problem for Affleck in this movie is how to fuse all three of these together. DC is all about the political heavyweight brass and the chauvinistic CIA. Hollywood has all the glitz and the glamour that only the late 70′s Hollywood knew. Tehran is a grainy, gritty and full of suspense, a very good set piece involving a re-con of the local bazaar turns into a sweaty-palm knuckle-biter which lets Ben Affleck show off his directorial flair. But Affleck manages to create and fuse all three settings expertly as they all feature very contrasting moods…

Argo has a cast where you’ll say ‘I know that person, but what have they been in?’, not many huge Hollywood heavy hitters here but most, if not all, are very accomplished actors and all carry their weight. John Goodman’s movie FX genius and Alan Alda’s upfront and pithy producer standout as a great double act combining laughs with suspenseful moments. The script sizzles and zings with one liners, not what you would expect in a politically driven movie, but it helps the characters and story move along at a snappy pace.

Argo does have a few niggles here and there with the characters involved but nothing that detracts from yet another hit on Afflecks new director sheet.

VERDICT

Argo is part comic caper and part political thriller delivered with style and confidence from a Hollywood heart-throb who now finds himself as one of the hottest and most in demand directors out there. Unlike the phrase uttered throughout this movie… Argo and see it!

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