“Argo” directed by Ben Affleck

By on November 6, 2012

Dan Walker on Film






Director:  Ben Affleck (“Gone Baby Gone”, “The Town”)

Main Cast:  Ben Affleck (“Goodwill Hunting”, “Armageddon”, “Pearl Harbor” — take the bad with the good, buddy)

Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”, “Malcolm In The Middle” and five other movies in 2012 alone)

John Goodman (I’m not going to bother listing his many movies)

Alan Arkin (Oscar winner for “Little Miss Sunshine”)

Victor Garber (“Titanic”)

Kyle Chandler (“King Kong”, the TV series “Friday Night Lights”)

Zeljko Ivanek (“The Bourne Legacy”, “Seven Psychopaths”)


Of the many things “Argo” achieves, it lets us know the “For Your Consideration” season has begun.

In the same way the United States helplessly and frustratingly held its collective breath during the Iran hostage crisis, I did the same while watching “Argo” (minus the helplessness and frustration, for which the Sandy aftermath has cornered the market).  Having watched the news and seeing the “Day number ____” figure change as it was happening, it was fascinating to see a depiction of what happened behind the scenes in the effort to rescue the hostages who fled the US embassy for the Canadian one before they were taken out of the country. The movie is so well-written, well-paced and well-acted, I had no time to think about anything but what was going to happen in the scene I was watching.  As with many great dramatic movies, the intensity is tempered with humor.  As an actor, Ben Affleck was a screen presence to be noted in the first movie I saw him in, “Chasing Amy”.  In that film, he was thoughtful and introspective even as his goal was taking on the challenge of trying to date a confirmed lesbian. After that movie, though, he never came across the same way in any other performance, although he’s always come across as a personally likeable guy.  As a director (“Gone Baby Gone”, “The Town”), he’s regained that credibility, and then some.

The premise alone — going into Iran under the guise of a movie crew scouting locations for a science-fiction movie (movies are the one thing everyone in the world seem to like) in order to rescue the hostages — was enough to attract me to see it.  The cast, especially Bryan Cranston and Zeljko Ivanek (this guy, effective in so many movies and TV shows, might be more well-known if his name was easier to remember), who have been in every other movie I’ve watched lately, are well-utilized.  John Goodman and Alan Arkin (who, like Bill Murray, becomes a more vibrant and interesting screen presence the older he gets and who will forever haunt me with his performance in “Wait Until Dark”) give us the recognizable actors most of us need to offset the rest of the mostly unknown cast, who, because of our unfamiliarity with them, give their characters credibility.  The storytelling and moviemaking were so good I have no recollection of the technicals or if the film even had a music score.  I don’t remember the last time I watched a movie where I felt like I didn’t take a breath until after the climax.

That last sentence is as concise and strong a recommendation as I can make for this great movie, especially compared to the major releases currently playing in theaters.



About Tom Godfrey

2 comments on ““Argo” directed by Ben Affleck

  1. Paul Fox on said:

    OK, OK, you’ve changed my stance from, “Ben Affleck’s in it? No chance.”, to “I can’t wait to see this movie”. Keep the reviews coming.

  2. Bernard Dion on said:

    I like Ben Affleck. As a person, he is definitely smart and likable. As an actor, he always does a good job. But I don’t like most of the movies he directs or even the ones he only acts in. The only good ones he showed up in were mostly his buddy matt Damon’s projects; I think it’s because he doesn’t know how to choose a good movie before getting involved in it ( remember the faitful “Gigli”?).
    But this movie is the exception. His best work by far, and the best movie project he has ever chosen.
    Thanks Dan for putting words to my feelings.

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