Starring: Ben Affleck (The Town), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski)
Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Chris Terrio
Runtime: 2 hours
Release Date: 12 October (US), 7 November (UK)
Ah, Ben Affleck. You’ve had an interesting career, haven’t you? After getting your start in Kevin Smith films, you won that Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon. Then something happened, didn’t it? You were in a bunch of crap like Pearl Harbour and Gigli before disappearing for a little while. But then you came back and decided to be a director. We all laughed at first, but then your movies Gone Baby Gone and The Town ended up being absolutely brilliant. So with Argo, you’re attempting to get that third straight home run. Did you succeed?
The story of Argo is so unbelievable that it has to be true, and luckily it is. The tale is extremely intriguing and it’s hard to believe that the CIA actually managed to pull this off. The film effectively uses classic thriller-style tension to create a genuine feeling of uncertainty, and also has a really good sense of humour that never feels too out of place (“You want to be a big shot without actually doing anything? You’ll fit right in!”). The film is also paced very well, making the two-hour run time fly by swiftly. All of this is down to Affleck’s strong direction. With Argo, the man manages to prove he can direct pretty much anything with a level of competency most full-time directors would envy. If he can keep it up, Affleck could easily be up there with Clint Eastwood in a couple of years.
Not a man to put himself completely out of the spotlight, Affleck also starts as protagonist Tony Mendez. While it might have been wise for him to focus on his directorial duties (as well as the fact that Affleck bears no resemblance to the real Mendez), he delivers an effective performance. But it’s the supporting cast of the film that really shines. Bryan Cranston shows he can be as commanding a presence on the big screen as he is on TV. John Goodman and Alan Arkin provide some great laughs as the primary comic relief. And Scoot McNairy appears as one of the fugitives, again showing he has a bright future in film.
Argo is a technically proficient film. The cinematography is gripping, and not just because it effectively matches the real footage of the hostage crisis. The editing is fast and fierce, but not so much so that the film becomes incomprehensible. The score works well, and the film makes great use of the music of the 70’s for certain scenes.
Well Mr. Affleck, you did it. You’re three for three, and it just so happens that your third is also one of the best films of 2012. I’m predicting some major Oscar nods come nomination time. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be up on that stage in February collecting that golden statue yet again. Good on you, sir.
And you were the bomb in Phantoms.
FINAL VERDICT: 9.5/10