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If you had told me back in the mid-1990s that I would be enjoying a movie directed by Ben Affleck I would have had a good laugh. Who would have guessed he would turn into a decent director?
Argo tells the true story of how the CIA attempted to rescue six Americans out of Tehran during the infamous hostage situation back in 1979 and 1980. After several different scenarios were tossed around, the seemingly insane idea of posing as a science fiction film looking for a shooting location was suggested by an agent named Tony Mendez, and the movie follows the steps the CIA took to make the back story sound legitimate, and how the events unfolded in Iran during the extraction.
Overall the film floats between comedic side moments – mostly related to the antics in the Hollywood portion of the back story – to scenes of intense tension as it seems the plan will be stopped at any moment from either our own side changing its mind to someone in Iran figuring out what is about to happen. The film quickly engulfs you and doesn’t let go until the very end where even the credits make you stick around as even more backstory is revealed through archival images.
All of that being said, and this is not a reflection so much on Affleck as on screenwriter Chris Terrio who messes up several dramatic beats with off-handed humor that seems strategically placed at points where he felt the audience could have used a breath. The humor doesn’t feel natural, but instead very forced to a point where you almost feel as if he went, “Whoa, it’ sbeen six pages since I had a lighthearted moment, better put one here.”
This isn’t remotely to say it’s a bad film, I throughly enjoyed it, but it is certainly not perfect.
Affleck may want to think about giving up on the acting, which would be a shame as I enjoy him, but his directing career is looking more promising with each new project. Lets see where he’ll take us next.