Argo review – DMU’s Tom Foster


Tom Foster

Ben Affleck returns for his third directorial outing in Argo, a film loosely based on the account of the ‘Canadian Caper’ where a CIA operative successfully rescued six American diplomats from Iran during the 1979 revolution. How exactly did he do this? He used the guise that the diplomats were in fact Canadian film makers who were location scouting in Iran for a fake sci-fi film entitled ‘Argo’. It sounds absolutely ludicrous, something that you’d only ever see in a movie, but surprisingly it happened and here we have Argo, a film which depicts these peculiar events.

Affleck has recently reinvented himself as a brilliant director; his first two directed films Gone Baby Gone and The Town were well made crime films and proved to me that Affleck had genuine talent behind the camera. I wasn’t particularly fond of Affleck as an actor; this was likely down to his roles in painful viewing experiences like Pearl Harbour and Gigli; but now with Argo, Affleck has fully cemented himself as a director whose films are well made and thoroughly entertaining which are sure to always engage the viewer.
Argo is a tense, thrilling and surprisingly funny film which hops along at a nippy pace entertaining the hell out of you. Our lead is Affleck who plays Tony Mendez, the CIA operative who is tasked with carrying out the mission, his performance is nothing special, but he is likable as Mendez and gets the job done. In the end it’s the film’s supporting cast that really rock the show; John Goodman and Alan Arkin play the Hollywood contacts who Mendez turns to for help; they both put in enjoyable performances and are damn funny, spewing out great lines between them. Bryan Cranston is great as always as Mendez’s supervisor overseeing the mission.

Argo is very much a combination of a hostage-thriller and heist film. The whole build up to the mission feels like the preparation to a bank heist, and then of course we get the escape/getaway involving Mendez and the diplomats which is crafted brilliantly to shred your nerves and keep you gripped until the very end, showing that a movie doesn’t have to rely on guns and explosions to be a tense viewing experience.

The film is fascinating in its look at this historical episode in one of Iran’s most troubled periods. Affleck’s direction is sublime with him being treated to a wonderful supporting cast. Argo is also able to effectively balance its comedic and dark elements; and while the film isn’t fully accurate, it’s nonetheless a fascinating and rip-roaring 120 minute thrill ride.

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