Ben Affleck has been through a rollercoaster in his career. With high praise and awards for his screenplay in Good Will Hunting, then the career lows of Pearl Harbour and the Bennifer disaster that was of Gigli. However going into directing has given Affleck a new lease of life as his two previous films Gone Baby Gone and The Town have both been intelligent thrillers and new film Argo carries this on.
Moving away from Affleck’s home town of Boston, Argo is a political thriller following the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran. Militants stormed the U.S embassy holding them hostage while six U.S. diplomats managed to get out undetected and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador. However as it won’t be long until the militants discover they’ve disappeared it’s up to the CIA to try and get them out of the country. This leads Ben Affleck’s Tony Mendez to come up with the craziest idea. Invent a fake sci-fi film-Argo- and pretend the 6 Americans are Canadian filmmakers and exit the country without the Iranians noticing.
It’s an idea so crazy it would seem Hollywood has come up with yet another implausible plot, but this film is more outstanding for the fact that it’s true. The CIA did create a fake film called Argo to rescue the Americans in Iran and for once Hollywood were the heroes, helping Mendez to make his cover story sound credible to the Iranians.
Argo is a tense and gripping thriller, and its success is mainly down to Affleck. From the tense opening scene of the militants invading the US embassy to the nerve wracking moment that Mendez and co try to leave Iran the energy never flags. We are constantly kept on edge wondering how they could possibly pull off this plan. Affleck seamlessly go from the funny, more light-hearted scenes of Hollywood to the frightening plight of the diplomats hiding in a cellar in Iran with aplomb. Of the cast, John Goodman ( as Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers-whose work includes Planet of the Apes!) and Alan Arkin( as film producer Lester Siegel) get most of the best lines, and Bryan Cranston is great as Mendez boss trying hard to make the plan goes smoothly over in America, however it’s Affleck who shines here. His character may be quieter, less flashy than the other parts but he brings a strong centre to the film, grounding it in case we all get too swept up by the amazing lengths they went through to create this cover. Mendez is stoic, quiet, he never forgets that there is people relying on him to get this right, and his own life will be at risk if they are discovered.
A great film, lead brilliantly by Affleck. Gigli seems like a faint memory in comparison to his recent achievements.
Rumours of Oscar nominations for Affleck are well founded in this grown-up thriller that proves Affleck is better when he has creative involvement in his films.