Duration: 120 mins
They often say things come in threes. Whether it be buses, accidents, or peas in a pod, it seems to be the way. But does the same rule apply when it comes to movies? Can someone with a hit-and-miss career in front of the camera produce a trio of successes behind it?
Ben Affleck has emerged as one of the industry's most promising talents, as long as we banish memory of what can only be deemed an ugly acting career, because the past half decade has seen him blossom behind the camera. Argo is Affleck's third directing effort, with Gone Baby Gone and The Town lavished with critical praise, it seems the 40-year old has finally found his niche.
Based on the real life events of the 1980 effort to rescue American diplomats pinned down in a hostile, revolutionary Iran, the Pearl Habour star asserts his now established skills at directing in a simple, yet effective manner that does an equally good job at balancing story progression with audience engagement.
Unlike his previous two, Argo tackles real life, and plays upon the intense nature of a narrative to engage its audience and drive it towards a climax. What's more, the finale of this particular film is its most rewarding part. Utterly engrossing; you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat for a good twenty or thirty minutes simply willing a peaceful resolution.
Without seeming overly negative, this is a strong and accomplished movie that does exactly what it sets out to achieve, but aside from its many pluses, there's no spark to make Argo anything more than a well made, solid movie.
However, what the film does do really well is to create and build upon a tense and edgy situation and elevates the level of danger to its peak. It boasts an understated subtlety without the need to veer into elaborately sensationalised territory, especially with Affleck's lead performance. His 'every man', reserved nature never once threatens to steal the show or hog the limelight; instead, that honour is left to a trio of sublime performances from Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. These characters, specifically, offer the wittiest moments and biggest laughs the script has to offer, and back up their quips with stand-out turns that prove memorable.
Argo is well structured, sharp, often funny and unbelievably tense at times -- more so in its final half hour. The story is consistently gripping, if not remarkable in incident, yet affirms itself as a strong Oscars contender for its decidedly capable execution of direction, screenplay and acting.