Matt’s Review: ‘Argo’ is a Slow Burning Drama That Climaxes BeautifullyBy
Ben Affleck’s latest Argo is by far his best effort as a Director and one of his best as an actor. The period drama is based on true events, almost too obscene to believe, set in Iran in the late 1970′s. While this film gets high marks in my book, it definitely will not be for everyone. A slow burning, building drama translates to boring for a lot of people. So bear that in mind, because Argo doesn’t do a whole lot to “entertain” early on.
The film kicks off with the American Embassy being overrun by Iranian protestors, the invaders taking every person within the building hostage. Everyone except for six Americans who escape before the seige and take refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador where they stay like hermits for months. Their exit is not an easy one, as white people stick out like a sore thumb and the airport is full of forces looking for these missing Americans. So Tony Mendez (Affleck) and the CIA take on the mission to get the six home with a very unique plan.
While the opening is not as tense and dramatic as the end, the fireworks taking place in the conclusion are all set up by the base established in the first 40 minutes of the film. The characters and the stakes are established, giving the audience a full grasp of everything taking place later on. Affleck has a real sense for finding ways to show the personalities of his characters and erecting a story without overloading with exposition.
The strongest aspect of this film is how real it feels — the environment (dress, decor, sets, styles) the characters, and especially the fear of the dangerous men searching for the hiding Americans. Recreating a world that feels this real is difficult, but Affleck and Co. make it seem simple. They inflict the threat and means of the Iranian forces by showing their tactics, creating a strong sense of tension as the play to escape is being carried out.
The Iranians are so menacing, it’s difficult to stare in the face of such ignorant and hateful people for the entire length of the film. The Iranians are not vilified in a way that makes them seem like mindless terrorists, but it is difficult to see such drive and hatred against people who simply live in a country they hate. This is something that is prevalent all over the world, definitely in our country, and it’s difficult to stomach for too long.
The cast is stellar in every regard, from the captive six to the genuinely lovable John Goodman playing John Chambers. Goodman turns in another stellar performance, which is the norm for him, playing alongside Alan Arkin as the Hollywood insiders on this mission. The pair provides some perfectly timed humor that keeps the film from being overly serious or drastic.
Overall, Argo is definitely one of the best films of 2012 and surely will be one of the contenders come Oscar time. The film is well paced and structured, setting the foundation in the early goings and building to a dramatic finish. All the while the film is laced with tension, spouts of humor, exceptional characters and even better performances (Bryan Cranston turns in a gem). All the hype for Argo is justified.
What Should You Do? Ar-go see it. When you see the film, you’ll understand that terrible, terrible pun.