An exfiltration specialist (Ben Affleck) masquerades as a Hollywood producer in order to rescue six Americans who are held captive in Tehran during the US hostage crisis in Iran.
Oscar Winning Argo received a lot of acclaim when it was released back in 2012, even winning Best Picture in 2013. As it was, I really liked it, it was a very well made historical thriller. I had seen Argo a couple of times, but that was some years ago, and I wanted to check it out again. Having seen it again, my opinion has stayed pretty much the same since the last time, great on a writing, directing and acting level.
A large part of what made Argo work greatly was the writing by Chris Terrio, which was very strong, the dialogue is particularly well written, witty, and even surprisingly funny at points. It also balanced the tone rather well, it could have comic moments but it could easily transition to tense and thrilling moments with ease, especially in the second half. Outside of some tense sequences early on, although I was still interested, there were parts in the first act that were a little slow for me and didn’t really have me completely invested. After the first act however, it really picks up, especially once Ben Affleck’s character arrives in Iran. The second half of the movie is where it shines the most, especially with the tense third act. Argo is also tightly written, with almost all the scenes all being relevant to the main plot and doesn’t spend a lot of time on subplots (there’s just a small one with Affleck’s character and his family mainly in the first half), so there’s never a moment wasted. With that said, with so many characters in this movie, it would’ve been nice for some of them to have been developed a little more than they were here. Now there are for sure some inaccuracies in this movie, mainly to make the movie more dramatic and to raise the tension, especially when it came to the last act (and admittedly it was a little overblown at points). However, it’s pretty typical when it comes to movies like this, and it didn’t bother me too much.
The ensemble cast are great, and they all worked together well. Ben Affleck is in the very clear lead role, and while I probably wouldn’t call it his best acting work, it’s up there and he is quite good. It’s quite a subdued and believable performance, and there’s enough depth given to his character. The supporting cast with the likes of Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, work greatly, the latter two particularly shining. Other members of the cast like Scoot McNairy, Victor Garber and Kyle Chandler also do their parts, no matter how big or small their roles are. I should also mention that although there are some A list actors headlining this movie, the use of character actors really worked effectively.
Argo is Ben Affleck’s third directed movie, and he has definitely shown to be a capable filmmaker, and his directing talents had been improving with every film that he makes. Whereas his previous movies Gone Baby Gone and The Town took place in a single city, Argo is on a much larger scale, and Affleck pulled it off very well. The cinematography and editing are top notch, the film is great on a technical level. There are also some very tense sequences that are effective. Even the style was reminiscent of the late 70s (Argo even opening with the old Warner Bros. label), and there was clearly a lot of effort to make everything fit the aesthetics of that era to feel authentic, from the costumes, the sets, etc.
Argo is a well made thriller, written and directed excellently, and starring an ensemble cast who work together well, and a great film overall. It’s not without its slight faults, but not enough to take away from the rest of the movie, and it is definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it already.