Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Ever since it was released theatrically back in October 2012 I have been hearing nothing but glowing reviews of Argo. At one point I was going to check it out but the showing was too late and I gave it a pass. Still, people continued to gush over it endlessly. In December my brother told me he had seen it three times already! I think it was around then that I stopped caring and figured I’d see it when it was released on video via Redbox. It turns out that my father had purchased a BluRay copy on day one (he proclaims it was the best movie of 2012 and that it “wuz robbed of an Oscar!”) so I just borrowed his.

I now realize that I should have seen that late show back in October. Argo is a fantastic movie.

Based on true events from 1980, Argo focuses on a group of six diplomats trapped in Iran during a revolution. The CIA needs to come up with a plan to extract them, and their best chance for infiltration is by sending in an agent (Ben Affleck) to help them pretend to be a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a low budget science fiction movie.
Ben Affleck. The guy has done a complete 180° on me. Back in the day when he was Kevin Smith’s golden boy I thought he was a decent actor. I especially liked him in Chasing Amy and Good Will Hunting. While I do enjoy the Armageddon on a guilty pleasure level I feel like his acting ability began to steadily decline from that point on. Flash forward to 2008 and I rented Gone Baby Gone on a whim. That flick blew me away, even more so when I saw him listed in the credits as director. This guy had some serious talent! The Town, while being way too long for its own good, was great as well. The thing is that he also starred as the lead and gave an amazing performance. So you can imagine that I had some pretty high expectations when I finally got around to seeing Argo.

For starters Affleck, as an actor, is great here. I do wish he’d just concentrate on being either an actor or a director and not both at the same time, but he gives a very grounded performance as the CIA operative who comes up with the Canadian film crew extraction idea.
His direction is spot on and he never gets the urge to go all arty or overly sentimental. He keeps the events grounded in reality (for the most part) and managed to create a very tense and suspenseful film that also has a surprising amount of humor at Hollywood’s expense. He also can direct one hell of an action scene. The opening scene where angry protesters jump the gates of the American Embassy in Iran and rampage through the facility is both exciting and horrifying. I am also thankful that he didn’t go The Town route and make this epically long. Argo clocks in at just under two hours.

All the supporting players, which incidentally are a who’s who of recognizable faces, are equally fantastic, if not more so. I especially liked Bryan Cranston as Affleck’s boss, Alan Arkin as a has been film director who helps out with the plan and John Goodman as a make-up effects man who is thrilled to be a part of history. All three give provide some of the lighter moments in the film (“Argo fuck yourself!” and “These guys are like the two old fucks from The Muppets.”) and are really fun to watch.
All the major bases are universally awesome. The cinematography is nice as well. My main issue is that there are a lot of conveniently stupid incidences that bring the film down a few notches. My main gripe is the finale at the airport. If the guards really wanted to stop the plane from taking off with the Americans… WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T THEY CALL THE CONTROL TOWER AND TELL THEM TO NOT ALLOW THE PLANE TO LEAVE!!! Instead all the crazed guards run all over the place screaming and shooting at bulletproof windows and chase after the plane in police cars which we all know will do no good. It’s a lot of useless histrionics that were created to create a suspenseful action scene out of nothing. I’m pretty sure that when all this went down in reality the plane got off the ground with no issues, and definitely no last second phone call from an anonymous soldier telling the guards to stop the plane when they wouldn’t know that these people had planned to leave that day. It’s all a little ridiculous and took me out of the movie.

The same goes for the one diplomat who constantly bickered with Affleck about his plan being foolish. Dude, there is no other plan. Just shut up because you are going to be captured even if you don’t go along with it. It’s drama for the sake of drama, and a payoff that rings false when he randomly embraces the plan because he absolutely has no other choice during the finale.
The sweat shop children reassembling shredded documents was also a little ludicrous, but that’s just me.

Outside of these issues Argo is a damned good flick. Is it the best film of 2012? Not in my eyes. I like it a lot, but I still stand by my choice of The Cabin in the Woods being my fave from last year. It’s definitely in the top fifteen.

4 out of 5

p.s. I would be extremely excited if the rumor was true that Affleck took on the role of directing the Justice League movie. Like Joss Whedon, Affleck is great with ensembles. Too bad it’s was only a rumor.

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