The movie more or less goes downhill from there. While the story is pretty interesting, the movie is marred by all the overly snappy and pretentious dialog. The film's writers were trying too hard to make the sharp banter among the various government officials and film executives be witty, and it came off as overdone and just lame. (Argo has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; I'm hoping it doesn't win.)
Alan Arkin's performance was overrated; it was decent but not extraordinary. He doesn't deserve the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor he was nominated for.
This movie in general is overrated. I mean, it held my attention and kept me entertained throughout its duration, but other than that there wasn't much else to it. It wasn't a very deep movie, and it felt rather shallow after I was done watching it.
The movie does have some moments of tension and suspense - like with the ongoing reconstruction of the documents shredded at the embassy that reveal the escapees' identities. But a lot of the drama feels fabricated, especially all the useless melodramatic whining and moaning we had to endure every time they showed the escapees at the Canadian ambassador's house. As the escapees were finally leaving Iran, the movie couldn't just let them leave normally (as I'm sure was how it actually happened). No, the movie insisted on awkwardly shoehorning in a cheesy and ridiculous drama/action sequence that you could automatically tell was fabricated. Did the filmmakers think anyone would actually believe that an action movie-style runway chase of a departing airplane happened in real life? What was going to happen next - an Iranian supercop leaps from the pursuing truck onto the wing of the plane and tenaciously clings to it as it takes off into the sky? Give me a break.
But no idea why it was the better Best Picture than Django, or even Les Mes
In order to preserve the suspense and awesomeness of Argo, I will not go into any further details regarding the plot. This is a movie that one should watch with no knowledge of what is going to happen throughout the course of the film.
Really, there honestly is not much I can say about this movie that has not already been said. It is utterly fantastic on every level.
The direction of the movie by Affleck is phenomenal. It is rather difficult to fully put a movie that is set in an earlier time frame (Late 1970's) on camera, while directing in a different year. Affleck, however, was able to accomplish that task and created an accurate representation of his intended time frame. Each scene was carefully executed and all of the details in the background such as the style of the rooms, the televisions used, the character's outfits and hairstyles, were spot on. There was no object that looked out of place.
Affleck did a commendable job and actually surprised me as an actor. I had no idea he was that talented. Perhaps seeing him in Daredevil at an early age turned me away from him but recently, he has emerged as one of my favorite people in the movie industry. Cannot wait to see him in Batman vs. Superman.
Another positive about Affleck's directing is the fact that he was able to create a spellbinding story that built tension gradually over the course of the film. All of that tension was put to great use in the film's finale and he literally had me screaming at the television by the end of the movie. I mean, wow. It is mesmerizing how each one of the scenes builds off one another and there are no "wasted" moments.
Most thrillers nowadays fail at sustaining tension throughout the course of the film and instead, rely on two or three scenes that are way over the top. Props go out to Affleck for knowing how to direct an effective thriller.
The editing of the film was phenomenal as well. Everyone involved in the production of the film made sure that the cuts to the next scene and camera switches were perfectly executed. Every scene fit seamlessly together with the next and there was no choppiness.
The casting of Argo was also tremendous. I mean Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman all did spectacular jobs and added a substantial amount of humor to the film. The jokes were subtle and dark but were absolutely hilarious. Most of the credit for that goes to Arkin, who played Lester Siegel, a Hollywood director. Every one of his lines was carefully crafted and he was such a great addition to the movie.
As for the other two, viewers sort of know what to expect from them. John Goodman is well... John Goodman. He does great in every role and people know his style.
But seriously. Bryan freaking Cranston. That guy can act and continues to blow my mind in every movie he stars in. He does such a great job at balancing the seriousness of his character but also rewards the audience by having a few snarky and hilarious lines.
Finally, Alexandre Desplat's score was entrancing. The music fit so well with the scenes and often added to the overall tone of the movie. Never was the music distracting or unnecessarily loud. When the tension was building, the score built as well, adding to the overall excitement and anticipation of the movie.
While there are controversies regarding the film, Argo still managed to go above and beyond my expectations for a political thriller. Affleck created a beautifully directed masterpiece that is filled with tremendous acting performances from himself, Goodman, Arkin, and Cranston. This is a movie that everyone should see at least once in his/her life.
Things I Liked:
John Goodman and Alan Arkin. Goodman and Arkin play the studio heads who assist the CIA. They do something really great in this film by adding an air of comedy to the film. They have their moments of great dramatic tension too but they also play a very realistic sense of using humor to defuse tension. The moments seem very natural and the chemistry between the pair is highly memorable.
The Tone. This movie is tense! There is this constant anxiety that comes from wondering if these people are going to get out alive and it lingers from nearly the start of the film almost all the way through to the finale. You are on the edge of your seat and there are no moments of action either. No gun fights, no war scenes, no chases, just people interacting with each other, and the way Affleck captured that was done in such a way that you felt every tense moment tenfold.
Things I Didn't Like:
The Pace. Movie is a bit slow. It does so to build tension but there are moments that feel like they could have been removed and nothing would have been lost. The movie has an interesting story and developed characters and even if the tension keeps building throughout the movie, it can get bogged down by taking too much time to stretch those feelings out. There are other ways to do tension building besides leading minor plot points to dead ends and conclusions that don't completely resolve.
Overall. Overall, the movie is a major success. The characters are all interesting and diverse. The tone is an amazing blend of pure tension with speckles of humor. The plot is interesting and the movie grabs you right from the start and doesn't let you go until it is over. The movie has a few moments that seem like they could have done without, but this is a minor issue in my opinion and overall the movie is a great work that really marked a turning point in Ben Affleck's career.
It is a reasonably well done picture but nothing that interesting nor well threaded that the story telling would be worth mentioning. Actually, probably the contrary.
The cast is quite good in any case.