When did Ben Affleck start walking in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood and Orson Welles? After a string of flops a few years back, Razzies and critical disapproval quickly replaced Affleck’s “Good Will Hunting” Oscar nods. And less than a decade ago, most people probably thought of Affleck as Matt Damon’s less–talented best friend. But first with “The Town” and now with “Argo,” he’s showing everybody up, directing and acting in movies that are consistently among the best in their years of release.
So what is “Argo”? True story: in 1979, angry Iranian mobs stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and took nearly everyone hostage. The six who didn’t managed to secretly escape by posing as refugees in the Canadian ambassador’s house.
In the film, the CIA struggles with their task to rescue the hostages. Then Mendez (Affleck) has a moment of clarity: pretend to make a movie. They disguise Affleck and the refugees as a Canadian film crew on a location–scouting trip for an upcoming science fantasy adventure, “Argo.”
On the surface, Affleck gives us a sleek, well–crafted thriller. It is tense, funny and shocking; despite the heavy content, the flick is outright fun to watch.
But underneath the crowd–pleasing and suspense lies a refreshingly thoughtful political commentary. The movie doesn’t draw lines between the good guys and bad guys — it makes you understand and even feel for the Iranian people’s anger, even while masquerading as a man–on–a–mission story.
“Argo” is one of the best theatrical releases of the year. Smart, provocative and satisfying, it is nearly guaranteed a few Oscar nods.
Directed by Ben Affleck
Starring Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin