Argo, Ben Affleck’s 3rd directorial effort, is about the declassified mission to rescue 6 American diplomats from a hostile environment in Iran in 1980. The film feels balanced, with no one actor being asked to carry the load. Every character serves a deliberate purpose to the extent that, by the end of the film, there doesn’t seem to be a main character.
The director makes Iran its own character, a bad guy, although it is mentioned in the opening credits that the United States was partially responsible for the predicament in which 1980 Iran found itself. Affleck is fair in that respect, making a clear effort to keep this film from being anti-Iran. The only point the film seems to make is that of giving recognition to the CIA operative Mendez (played by Affleck) and by stealing or returning, rather, some of Canada’s thunder, as they were given most of the credit for the success of the mission, while the CIA kept things CIA-ish.
The acting is crisp. Affleck doesn’t ask himself to do much (and he doesn’t) but John Goodman and Alan Arkin serve up laughs in between the films thriller moments.
The rest of the cast is solid, no oscar worthy performances here but again, it is a strong balanced effort in which no one necessarily stands out nor makes any mistakes either.
The dialogue flows nicely and serves up great tension. There were several moments where I jumped in my seat and/or held my breath. Affleck made the made the city of Tehran its own character rather than any one particular Iranian the villain and that is why I respect the film. Some may disagree with me but I felt like Argo didn’t do what many pro-american films do and nominate one foreign character as the head villain and effectively stereotype an entire nation of people. I continuously felt as if the hostile environment of that time, not the Iranian people in general, was the villain.
The end credits sequence is fascinating because it shows just how detailed the art direction was. There is also surprise commentary during the credits sequence which makes me give even more judos to Affleck for doing such a superb job in regards to detail. This is his third film, his first two being Gone Baby Gone and The Town. I recommend Argo to any and all movie goers with an interest in history and/or suspense. 8.5 out of 10