Thursday, December 6, 2012

Movie with Abe: Argo

Directed by Ben Affleck
Released October 12, 2012

This is only the third film directed by Ben Affleck, who has successfully gone behind the camera after building his career in front of it. Affleck takes a major leap from his first two directorial efforts, leaving his familiar hometown of Boston and taking his adventures across the globe. Once again making extraordinary use of a diverse ensemble, Affleck crafts an exciting and intense thriller about a real-life daring operation covertly conducted by the CIA in conjunction with Canada to extract six American embassy employees hiding out in the home of the Canadian ambassador in Iran in 1980.

The notion of this “Argo” film is far more logical than the fictional film of the same title set up as the front for the extraction operation. The purposeful ludicrousness of the script and everything involved with it is an asset used very well by the film, adding in humor and some levity to an otherwise extremely serious situation. John Goodman and Alan Arkin add considerable comic relief as the Hollywood collaborators on the operation, using their makeup and producing talents, respectively, to concoct “Argo” as a seemingly legitimate cinematic undertaking, capable of convincing Iran authorities of its validity.

As with his previous film, “The Town,” Affleck casts himself in the central role, here playing CIA Agent Tony Mendez, and again, his is far from the most captivating character. A handful of recognizable faces, including Victor Garber, Bryan Cranston, Chris Messina, Kyle Chandler, Bob Gunton, Philip Baker Hall, Tate Donovan, and Clea Duvall, populate the cast, portraying government agents and embassy employees. Everyone looks the part, dressed in clothing and colors of the time, with appropriate hairstyles to match. With no specific standout, the cast works together marvelously to tell a fully functional and dynamic story.

“Argo” is exceptionally skillful in building suspense, starting out with a gritty staging of the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran that resulted in the taking of many hostages and the escape of the six employees to the home of the Canadian ambassador. The build-up to the operation allows for a temporary calm, and the film’s pace quickens as soon as Tony arrives in Tehran. This film serves both as an excellent thriller and as a strong testament to a dangerous, daring initiative. It’s also a clear sign that Affleck knows what he’s doing behind the camera and should definitely consider making more films like this.


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