Argo (2012) – Film Review
Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
by Dan Berlinka
With his third feature as director, Ben Affleck successfully completes his transformation from Hollywood himbo to mature film-making all-rounder in the George Clooney mould. And it’s no surprise to find the silver fox serving as one of this picture’s producers.
That’s not to say Argo isn’t a pretty much by-the-numbers affair (because it is)… but they’re good numbers. Top notch cast of character actors. Excellent use of archive and reconstruction. The right balance of geopolitical awareness and crowd-pleasing populism. And most importantly, a genuinely gripping story.
“Inevitable resonances with the present”
Affleck himself gives an effective and unshowy lead performance, tinged with melancholy, while behind the camera he keeps the narrative tight and the tension high. The script makes a reasonable attempt to avoid portraying all Iranians as stereotypical mad mullahs, and while the references to the US’s role in the Shah’s brutal regime aren’t exactly subtle, at least it is acknowledged (if not deeply explored).
Despite being set some 32-years ago, there are inevitable resonances with the present, and overall this feels like a timely story well told, and one that is commercially-minded enough not to let the seriousness of the subject get in the way of the entertainment.