Argo is Ben Affleck’s third film as a director and is a fine drama/thriller based on true events about the aftermath of the Iran Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis following an attack on the countries American embassy.
The movie centres on an attempt to rescue six Americans who escaped before being taken hostage. Due to the dangerous nature of the location a typical rescue mission is impossible therefore CIA agent Tony Mendez (played by Affleck) is sent to Iran to evacuate the six Americans under the false identity of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film called Argo. The film follows the events that lead up to the mission including the Mendez’s trip to Hollywood to make Argo seem like a legitimate movie project and concludes with the covert operation.
There is some fine acting from the impressive ensemble cast; John Goodman and Alan Arkin are perfectly cast as the Hollywood players bringing comic relief with several good
filmmaking in-jokes. Their scenes help lighten the tone of what is otherwise a dramatic and suspenseful movie without from the plot. I believe Affleck gives his best performance to date, which is key to the film’s success seeing as it hinges on the six Americans trusting his character and therefore we as an audience have to as well.
The film acts very well as an entertaining history lesson on the revolution in Iran at the time and the hostage situation; capturing the severity, chaos and scariness of the events. There is a particularly effective scene when the six American would-be hostages are in a van driven through an angry mob which is extremely claustrophobic and tense.
Argo is very well written with some great dialogue exchanges in the CIA offices and seems relatively faithful to the true story; this is especially impressive seeing as this writer Chris Terrio’s debut screenplay. Alexandre Desplat delivers an effective score that helps ramp up the tension and suspense when needed, but is not overbearing in other scenes.
I thoroughly enjoyed Affleck’s previous two films; Gone Baby Gone and The Town, though Argo is definitely his most ambitious and intelligent film yet. If he keeps up this he has a real future as a great director and could possibly become his generation’s Clint Eastwood.