Devon's Review of Argo
Ben Affleck the "director" is something of a new thing, he has just two other feature films under his belt, but "Argo" demonstrates a particularly seasoned approach to film-making that is a bit of a rarity these days. The performances are fine, but the story-telling and especially the pacing of the film are, I hate to say it, examples of near cinematic genius. Yes, the star of some of the worst movies ever made ("Daredevil", "Gigli", "Pearl Harbor") might actually be a genius behind the camera. If Argo were merely a suspense/thriller/action film then this would be hyperbole, but Argo is considerably more than that. Argo has comedy, feel-good patriotism, tension and a narrative that flows easily. It's textbook story-telling/filmmaking that doesn't come off as manipulative.
Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, a CIA exfiltration expert who's called upon to try and figure out a way to exfiltrate 6 embassy workers trapped in Iran during the 1979 revolution. The workers have been hiding at the home of the Canadian ambassador, but the revolutionaries are closing in on them. There are several schemes for their escape floating about, from giving them bicycles and having them ride 300 miles to the border, to having them pose as crop inspectors (although as there was snow on the ground, it would be difficult for them to inspect anything). Mendez' implausible, yet logical plan involves posing the six as a canadian film crew, out scouting locations for their upcoming sci-fi star fantasy, "Argo". Mendez realizes in order to fool the Iranians, his bogus film must appear to be completely legitimate, and with the help of make-up specialist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), Argo begins to take on a life of it's own.
Great films aren't necessarily about having a deep message, or discovering some profound truth, sometimes it's just about being very well made and unabashedly entertaining. A great director like Hitchcock made populist films that were funny and suspenseful, but above all entertaining. With Argo, Affleck seems to be following in those legendary footsteps.