Each time Ben Affleck directs a film it seems like the world is flabbergasted. “I thought Ben Affleck was done!” I don’t know if anyone truly believed Affleck was ever “done,” but surely either Gone Baby Gone or The Town did something to convince doubters that Affleck would not be exiled from Hollywood. Argo definitely puts the nail in the coffin.
A departure from the crime dramas set in his hometown of Boston, Affleck directs and stars in Argo, bringing to life an incredible true story that most people are not aware of. Unbelievably, the story goes like this: An Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 involving six fleeing Americans is hijacked by a last-resort rescue mission to pass those that are hiding off as the filmmakers scouting locations for a bogus Sci-Fi film called Argo. It wasn’t until 1997 that the mission became declassified by President Clinton and the world found out what actually happened during that highly publicized period.
Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the exfil specialist who came up the “best bad idea” for a rescue mission..”I got an idea. They’re a Canadian film crew for a science-fiction movie. I fly into Tehran, we all fly out together as film crew.” He counters his aggressive, meticulous directing with steady and balanced acting.
In a film that runs two hours there is not a moment of disengagement. “Edge-of-your seat” is a pretty mild term to describe the feeling you get(or your physical orientation, for that matter)when watching this pressure-filled thriller. Most importantly, Affleck is able to bring the audience along for the turbulent ride, step by step with filmmaking that is tight with excitement and tension, but also extremely clear and detailed.
Bryan Cranston is as electric as ever as Jack O’Donnell, Mendez’s supervisor at the CIA. Alan Arkin and John Goodman are at their best, as the real-life director and the make-up artist for the fake movie, bringing out enormous laughs from the audience throughout the film. Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Chris Messina, Victor Garber, Clea DuVall, among several others, also shine in their supporting roles.
Combine accurate, powerful and driven storytelling with an impeccable cast that perfectly handles brilliant dialogue– dialogue that includes a lot of humor, you not only get one of the best movies of the year– you get an instant classic. Its so good that its kind of a shame that we’re still talking about how we thought Affleck was done.