First Hit: Ben Affleck knows what he is doing behind the camera – excellent film.
The attention to detail in this period piece was outstanding. The hair styles, facial hair, cars, airplanes, interiors, and exteriors – all done with meticulous detail. Affleck even had the “Hollywood” sign in disrepair as it was back then.
Ben Affleck also is the lead character Tony Mendez, an analyst and specialist in getting US Government employees out of countries when they are trapped. In Argo the film is based on a true story to extract 6 people out of Iran after students took over the Iranian US Embassy in 1979.
These 6 people snuck out the back and made their way to a Canadian Embassy employee’s home. Tenseness is generated partially because the Iranians are taking stock of the embassy they’ve taken over but don’t yet know 6 people escaped. The race is to get them out of country before the Iranians learn whose missing where they are hiding.
Jack 0’Donnell (played by Bryan Cranston) is supporting Mendez’s plan to fake scouting for exotic locations in Iran and the 6 escapees become part of the scouting crew and then all leave on a plane. The plan, although absurd is better than all the other plans which Mendez disses as mindless and stupid.
Affleck creates an immense amount of tension during the film and does this in a sweet, slow and creative way. As part of the fake US based film team, Lester Siegel (played Alan Arkin) and John Chambers (played by John Goodman) create both comic relief and developed a strong sense of Hollywood.
One of the best things about this film is that there is no one dominating performance – it is the performance of the entire team that makes this film work really well.
Affleck as Mendez is very good and shows that Affleck doesn’t have a huge ego when directing – he keeps himself in check and this makes his subtle yet effective performance excellent. Arkin is beyond funny and perfect as the guy who makes this fake film a fake hit. Goodman, who is a makeup artist but substitutes as a producer is definitely in his swim lane – exquisite performance. Cranston is very good as Affleck’s boss who believes in his man. Chris Terrio wrote a an excellent script from Joshuah Bearman’s article. Affleck is extremely competent as a director and has a long career behind the camera giving the audience excellent stories. He will be nominated for an Oscar.
Overall: This is an excellent film – a must see and will give younger people an excellent view of early 1980 history.