“You need somebody who’s a somebody to put their name on it. Somebody respectable. With credits. Who you can trust with classified information. Who will produce a fake movie. For free.” – John Chambers
Congratulations to Argo on its Best Picture win at the Golden Globes last night. I finally got to watch it right after the victory, and I can say that, at the very least, it’s a movie I can see winning the Oscar as well.
Argo, the newest Ben Affleck film (if you’re still laughing at his name for some reason, get it out of the way before you continue) is based on true events. The opening scene sets the stage. In 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran is overrun, and the Iran hostage crisis gets underway. It’s a brilliant, tense scene which also depicts 6 people escaping and being taken into hiding by the Canadian embassador. Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA exfiltration specialist, whose idea to get the escapees back to America is to create a cover story of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie.
Mendez flies to Hollywood, where he meets up with John Goodman and Alan Arkin. The pair, especially Arkin, are able to deliver several laugh out loud moments, and truly make the film. Goodman’s character is an Oscar-winning make-up artist, and Arkin’s a big shot producer, fleshing out the plan while adding credibility.
From there, Mendez meets with the escapees and trains them on how to leave the country. The film is 120 minutes long, and honestly could’ve taken its time a bit more. The escapees aren’t fleshed out a whole lot. But better too short than too long, right?
Affleck’s character is very reserved, and some might call him boring. But he is exactly what is needed for the role, especially when sharing the screen with Arkin or Goodman: collected, in control, and good at his job. The story is the star here, as the thriller never drags at any point, and changes pace effectively. It all builds to the climax when Affleck and his “film crew” are in the airport, which has more than its share of heart-stopping moments. But there are no big explosions. This is a movie that gets by on style, subtlety and writing. It nails the 70’s aesthetic. Many say that Affleck got snubbed for an Oscar nomination for his directing. While I don’t think he should win, I agree. Argo may not be you favorite movie, but it’s one that anyone should enjoy.