I think the shift has finally been made in Ben Affleck‘s career. At one point, if you heard his name, you’d let out a brief chuckle and name films like Gigli and Daredevil and the Jennifer Lopez stories. The name Affleck was not regarded as an elite one for many years. Well, making one really good film will get you on the right track to elite stardom, and he did just that in 2007, writing and directing Gone Baby Gone to much critical success. Then he did it again in 2010, writing and directing The Town to equal or more success. I think the third time really is the charm, because with his newly to theaters film Argo, critics and publications everywhere have decided it’s time to shed the poor image of Affleck and see him for what he really is: an extraordinarily talented director, writer, and actor.
Taking place in 1979, Argo is the story of a rescue mission performed by the Canadian and U.S. governments alike to recover 6 US citizens who escaped an invasion of the U.S. embassy in Iran and hid in a Canadian embassy residence. With the entire Iran government locking down the country looking for these six Americans, Tony Mendez [Affleck] came up with the idea to launch the production of a fake science fiction movie shooting in Iran and have the trapped Americans pose as the crew.
Being a film based on true events, the first thing I think of after coming home from the movie is the accuracy of the sets and casting. For about 5 minutes after the credits start rolling, you are shown pictures of the actual Americans that were stranded in Iran and the government members who lead the operation compared to the actors who portrayed them, and for the most part they were all spot on. They also compare some set replications of actual pictures from the events in Iran, and they were also shot just the same. I think it’s really cool to have so many similarities when you are watching a film about a true event. Funny enough, the only thing that was blatantly wrong about the casting was Ben Affleck as the lead Tony Mendez, who is a Mexican man with only a mustache, where as Ben Affleck is clearly American who is sporting a full beard in the film. So while they obviously weren’t trying to make Affleck look like Mendez, it still makes me laugh. “What a jerk, he casts himself as the lead in his own movie when he doesn’t even look like the guy!”. But honestly, that might be the only thing in the entire film I can nit-pick.
Being a pseudo-political thriller, the movie could be a bit dry in places with some slow pacing and scenes that were a little dull and didn’t feel necessary, but apart from that was some really full drama and thrill, and also some damn good comedy, mostly from the Hollywood employees of the film played by Alan Arkin and John Goodman. They took some real shots at the embodiment of Hollywood and the people that work inside it, and it was really funny. On the other side of that, they showed how much power and influence it has on the entire world. Hell, the entire premise of their rescue mission was that Hollywood movie makers were going into Iran, which was on the verge of war with the U.S., to make a sci-fi Star Wars rip off. There are plenty of silly things about the industry, but it is a damn powerful one and maybe the most world renowned and influential, which is made clear in the movie.
The film’s story is whole, seemingly accurate, and educational and enables the viewer create a connection with it’s characters, which is vital in a thriller when the whole idea is to make you concerned for their being able to escape and survive. I was certainly on the edge of my seat for a long while.
3.5/4.0 – Ben Affleck’s Argo gives the director a trio of really solid films under his belt, with this new installment being an interesting, exciting movie about actual events that allow for some real drama and thrill.