Argo (2012)

ImageDirected by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Chris Terrio
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Zeljko Ivanek.

Nominations: Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Screenplay (based on previously produced material) and Best Picture.

Ben Affleck’s third feature is a solid political drama based on the 1980 CIA-Canadian mission to free six diplomatic escapees out of Revolutionary Iran by staging a fake film production.  The movie moves forward well and tells a good story with the help of strong performances, a little laughter and a suspense-driven final act.  I enjoyed it but would I rank it #201 on IMDB’s, now skewed, top #250 list? No.  That said, most people I know loved it.

What I liked:  The writing is excellent and Affleck does well to rely heavily on the plot as the story itself is the most interesting part of the movie.  Alan Arkin and John Goodman provide the comic relief and are a cut above the other performances.  The casting is near perfect and the 1980s feel of the movie works.  Finally, the movie moves smoothly forward because of the story and it gains momentum and crescendos into an excellent final act.  Had I left the movie early, I would be writing a different (and half-assed) review.

What I didn’t like:   Ben Affleck is commendable as the CIA Operative who takes responsibility for the lives of the six escapees but his performance felt too much like Affleck playing the hero and while I appreciated the sense of deep emotion beneath his impassive expression, perhaps there just wasn’t enough urgency until the final act to engage my attention completely.  That said, I tip my hat at his turn from Hollywood bad boy to serious filmmaker by letting the work speak for itself.  What I noticed most was the lack of true emotion or filmmaking creativity in the storytelling to make this film stand above the pack.

My rating:  I would give it my vote for best screenplay.

IMDB: 8.1

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

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