Created on: October 24, 2012 Last Updated: January 14, 2013
It’s not very often that a modern day film has the audience breaking out into a round of applause mid-screening, yet that is exactly what happened during the Melbourne Media Screening of Argo. It seems that both critics and the public agree that Argo is a very special film indeed.
Based on real events, Argo is set in late 1979 and early 1980, when a group of American Embassy workers were taken hostage during a revolution in Iran. What worries the American Government even more is the fact that some of the workers escaped the embassy and need to be rescued from where they are hiding, in the Canadian Ambassador’s House. With their lives in danger, the government wants the workers rescued quickly, but with guards patrolling all the airports, it is going to take a very special story to get past them.
Enter CIA Agent Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), who turns to one of his top operatives, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), to come up with a believable story. When Tony gets famous producer John Chambers (John Goodman) and director Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) on board to try and trick the Iranian Government into thinking that Hollywood is about to film a sci-fi blockbuster in their country, it is up to O’Donnell to try and get a list of people, including Hamilton Jordon (Kyle Chandler), to see that this far-fetched plan could actually work.
Argo shows that Ben Affleck is one of the best directors that Hollywood has ever seen. His first two films, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, were great films, but the brilliance of Argo blows them right out of the water.
Whether it's a scene of mass hysteria in Iran or a meeting deep inside the CIA, Affleck makes Argo look so realistic that you feel that you are actually watching documentary footage. The cast looks a lot like the people they are portraying, and the side-by-side shots featured in the end credits show how eerily spot on the casting choices were.
What also shows just how good Affleck is as a director is how suspenseful he made the film without ever stooping to cheesy Hollywood tricks. When Mendez is leading the ‘escapees’ through the airport and onto the tarmac, the audience is going through one of the most suspenseful moments they are ever likely to see on the big screen.
Many have criticized Affleck for playing a Hispanic character in Argo, but to be honest you don’t really notice it as you are watching the film. His performance is faultless, and he is well supported by John Goodman and Alan Arkin, who mix just the right amount of drama and comedy to make their performances truly memorable.
It isn’t going too far to say that Argo is a modern day masterpiece. Come Oscar night, Argo is going to take home a swag of awards. This is a film that will be enjoyed by film lovers for generations to come. If you want to learn how to direct a suspenseful thriller, sit back and watch Mr. Affleck work his magic.
Learn more about this author, Dave Griffiths.
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