I recall going to see Apollo 13 as a teenager and being excited to come home from the theater and asking my parents what they remember about a story that surely was one of the biggest events of their youth.

They’d never heard of it. I was shocked. How could such a big story be such a non-event to most people? How was this even possible? How many other things are going on every day that we are completely unaware of.

Directed by Ben Affleck, Argo is based on the real life rescue of six hostages from Iran. Tony Mendez (Affleck) is brought in to sneak six hostages out of the country. The story was to pretend the six hostages were six Canadian filmmakers in Iran to scout potential film locations for a fictional sci-fi movie named “Argo.”

The movie is extremely well done. The story is fantastic, the look is authentic, and the dramatic moments were were almost perfect (I’ve got one small beef near the end, but I can’t go into it without spoiling big parts of the movie).

After making the brilliant “Good Will Hunting” in 1997, Ben Affleck has seen his stock rise and fall. He had his fair share of failed movies as well as some high profile failed relationships. It seemed that the tabloid media loved to watch this guy fail the same way they enjoy writing stories about Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan today. However, in 2007, he released the under-the-radar Gone Baby Gone. The masses weren’t expecting much, but it was critically acclaimed. Three years later, he released the ridiculously awesome The Town.

As a director, Affleck is batting a perfect 3-for-3 and has joined the ranks of Tarantino, Nolan, and Scorsese in the category of “must watch” directors. Like Clint Eastwood, Affleck’s directing style seems to be simplistic and a throwback to an older (better?) era of movie making which focused on the story. Unlike Gone Baby Gone and The Town, the characters in this movie actually wind up being almost underdeveloped. I appreciated this approach, though, because further developing the characters would’ve done very little to move forward the plot. In fact, it very easily could’ve been a distraction that caused the flow of the movie to feel almost clunky (see another Affleck movie Pearl Harbor for an example of how trying to develop characters can kill a movie). In a strange way, minor characters – played by big name performances such as John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, and Alan Arkin – are more developed than characters who spend more time on the screen.

Argo is one or two minor missteps from being a brilliant movie. As I mentioned before, there is one really minor scene near the end that I thought was a little overly cinematic, but it isn’t even close to ruining the ending of the movie (a la He Got Game). As someone who catches a lot of movies on dvd, I highly recommend getting out to a theater to check this one out.


out of 10

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10 2012

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