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Argo


Between 2000 and 2003, these movies were released: Reindeer Games, Pearl Harbor, Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, and Jersey Girl. Exactly two of these films cracked the 6.0 threshold on IMDB…with 6.1s (Gigli posted a 2.4 for inquiring minds). Raise your hand if you could have guessed that the star in each of these flops would become one of the best young directors of his generation? Put your hand down. We all know you’re lying.

Grade:

Argo takes from the true story of the hostage situation in 1979 Tehran. As a mob in a fury takes over the American embassy, six members of the staff escape and take refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. Back on domestic soil, the CIA is frantically working with the State Department to formulate a plan to get them out. After throwing out bikes, teacher credentials, and an agricultural plan for the winter in Tehran, Tony Mendez (the afore-implied Ben Affleck) decides the most plausible option for exfiltration is to pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations in quite possibly the most tumultuous country in the world at that time. Needless to say, the choices were lacking.

Argo ends up being essentially two movies. The first is the obvious exfiltration suspense-filled thriller. Even though you know the ending, the entire movie is tense and nerve-racking. You find yourself anxious about the most banal details because you, like the characters, know that the slightest hint of being an American leads to death. The second film is much more ebullient.

Much like Tropic Thunder, Argo is an ode to the film industry and all its intricacies. There are jokes throughout, mostly from the amazing John Goodman and Alan Arkin, which are geared specifically towards those in the industry (or those of us in LA who know about it by proxy). The entire film aspect of the movie serves as the chance to catch a breather and prepare yourself for the action. Once Mendez is in Iran it is a nonstop onslaught of tension. While viewing the movie, you will probably ask for the more comical scenes to end, and your wish will be granted. However, at the end you will probably wish there had been more comic relief to complement the serious tone. By utilizing Goodman and Arkin’s comedic talents so infrequently, Argo gives the impression that there was not enough story from the hostage situation and Affleck felt the audience would need a little more. The problem is he didn’t realize how balancing this aspect of the film would come to be.

Now, on to Mr. Affleck. I enjoyed Gone Baby Gone because I had read the book, but thought nothing of the fact that he directed it. I enjoyed The Town infinitely more than I had anticipated, so he caught my attention. Now, with Argo, the third time seems to be the charm, as Affleck has established himself as a consistent director. His films have clarity and sharp visuals that keep you engaged in the story no matter what is happening on screen, and Argo is no different. I’m excited to see what he chooses next (or chooses him as the case was for Argo). Nowadays, if a little black kid said, “You white, you Ben Affleck,” well, I think I’d be just fine with that.

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