Director: Ben Affleck
Genre: Drama, Thriller,
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé and John Goodman
Review by: Allan
“Does pre-Oscar buzz harm the expectations for Best Picture contender?”
1979, as a revolution takes place throughout the streets of Iran the American embassy is attacked and the men and women inside are taken hostage. But six Americans manage to escape and hide out in the Canadian ambassadors’ home. With a lack of good ideas the CIA come up with the best worst plan to get them out of the country before the world at large becomes aware of their existence. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) creates a fake science fiction movie with the help of some Hollywood friends and under these false pretences intends to smuggle the six out as part of the non-existent films crew.
All of this would sound ludicrous if it wasn’t all based on a very true story. Can Mendez’s idea succeed? Will all of the six make it out before their identities are discovered by the Iranian revolutionaries? Can Bryan Cranston do a bad performance? Was there really that much face fuzz in the seventies?
Ben Affleck, women kinda love him, men sorta love to hate him. Pearl Harbour, Gigli and Daredevil helped to confirm what we all knew. He just isn’t that good an actor. But then something strange happened. Long after his Oscar success for co-writing Good Will Hunting he went behind the camera to direct some fine dramatic flicks, Gone Baby Gone and The Town. His third feature, Argo, Mr Affleck has crafted a film that aims to be a period piece as if it were made at the time, akin to All The Presidents Men. From the classic Warner Bros. logo, the gritty film stock, the terrible fashion, to the aesthetics of the piece it is hard to fault the attention to detail, minor chronological gaffs aside.
Oddly for such a serious drama the tone of Chris Terrio’s screenplay flits towards the humourous side during the Hollywood portion of the film, allowing Arkin to spout the films surprisingly pun-tastic catchphrase “Argo and f**k yourself!”. The remainder of the flick has so much tension that even getting aircraft tickets requires a sweat inducing, nail biting sequence of last minute phone call based thrills.
The cast is filled with recognizable faces all doing their bit of looking serious and fearful of the situation and as a high brow piece of entertainment it really works. However it doesn’t quite reach the levels of Oscar worthiness. It documents an interesting and previously unknown piece of fairly recent history proving yet again the truth is often far stranger than fiction. But it doesn’t really justify the hype and buzz surrounding it for next year’s award season.
In conclusion, a well constructed, brilliantly acted drama but should it win on Oscar night? Argo forth and multiply!
Argo MOVIE REVIEW