Cast: Ben Affleck, John Goodman
Writers: Chris Terrio (Screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (Article)
Director: Ben Affleck
**** out of Four
Last night I went and saw "Argo", because I had some time to kill before my band practice with Parental Advisory. The only tickets available were V.I.P., but I'm not complaining because it's only two dollars extra and they serve you liquor. The movie begins and right from the first frame I was hooked. I was so into this movie that my beer was only half-empty when it finished. Ben Affleck has made an incredible movie and should be nominated at the Oscars this year. This is not me just buying into the all the hype, this is truly one-of-a-kind entertainment.
The story (for those who don't know) is about the Iran Hostage Crisis that took place in the late '70's early '80's. A group of Islam's students and militants stormed the American Embassy and held over 50 Americans hostage for over 444 days. 6 of those captured manage to escape and live in the home of the Canadian Ambassador (Victor Garber). Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) devises a plan to get them out. He will fake a movie production and move them out of the country.
The premise alone could have easily turned this into an all-out comedy, but Mr. Affleck knows how to balance the humor with very intense drama. There are moments that are funny, but when the shit gets real, it gets real. If you kept up on American history then you know the outcome of this tale, but just like "Apollo 13", you're still riveted and the story still feels fresh and new. It is one of the best stories about bravery and the strengths of the human spirit I have seen in a while.
The cast is really good, including John Goodman and Alan Arkin as the two film honchos who help Mendez with his fake movie. The actors who portray the six hostages (including Clea DuVall and Chris Messina) were also very good, because they conveyed very well how scary it would be to experience that whole ordeal. The only casting choice I have mild complaints about would be Ben Affleck playing the role of Tony Mendez, who is of Spanish descent, while Mr. Affleck is clearly not. But like I said, it's a mild complaint, because he delivers a really good performance.
The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto ("Broken Embraces") is great, because it looks like a movie that was made in the late '70's. It has the right amount of grain to make it look authentic. Even the Warner Bros logo at the start looks like the ones they used during that time. Editor William Goldenberg ("Heat") should also get credit for moving the film along at a good pace. It never feels rushed and it never gets slow.
"Argo" is, in my mind, already a classic and deserves to be up there with the best. I hope the other nominees at the Oscars are just as good, because they have some real competition on their heels.