Ben Affleck’s directorial carreer, in essence, has been the saving grace of the man’s reputation. After a string of simply dreadful misfires (famously including Daredevil andPearl Harbor among them), the man had become a joke in the eye of critics and once-fans alike. That is, until Affleck made Gone Baby Gone. I haven’t seen that film, but I have seen the original cut and the three-hour extended cut of his second directorial effort, The Town, which is a riveting and fantastic crime thriller that remains to be one of the best of its kind in the 21st century. Because of that, the brilliant, goosebump-inducing trailers, and the perfect cast, Argo, to me, was the fall movie to be pumped for. And I can honestly say, if you have any high expectations at all, prepare for them to be surpassed beyond your wildest imaginations. Argo follows the true story of a CIA effort to get six runaway US citizens, who narrowly escaped being help hostage in the 1979 Tehran Hostage Crisis, out of Iran and back to the US using a fake movie as their cover.
The wide-ranging and talented cast of Argo offers up some of the best actors that Hollywood has to offer
today. Leading the pack is director and star Ben Affleck, who knocks it out of the park with his role, and probably deserves a Best Actor nomination for his nuanced, subtle work as the often funny, clever, heartfelt, and rousing protagonist at the center of this story. However, the supporting does not get overshadowed by any means. John Goodman and Alan Arkin, both deserving of Best Supporting Actor nominations here, walk away with every single scene they are in. Their humor, likability and flat out brilliance allow them to walk away with some of the best moments and lines in the entire film. Beyond that, we have Breaking Bad star and TV fan-favorite Bryan Cranston who turns some good work and has a particularly good scene in which Phillip Baker Hall does a sort of cameo. Overall, I expect many nominations to come for the acting in Argo and the colorful, charismatic characters that anchor this story makes it unbelievably entertaining to watch in the funny parts and nail-bitingly intense when stuff gets serious.
The story at the center of this film is a fantastic and true premise that tells the story within the true story that we haven’t heard. Argo is equal parts a faux movie production comedy and hostage crisis thriller strung together perfectly and seamlessly by a beautifully written script. The story builds in tension nonstop but allows many moments for the audience to laugh, while never letting them not sit on the edge of their seat. Argo is a film that never manages to be slow or boring, and it will have you completely and utterly engaged, jaw dropped from minute one. Goosebumps wouldn’t be uncommon in the first scene, even. Yes, the first hour and forty minutes of this film are downright brilliant, but the last twenty minutes are sheer, intense masterpiece. I won’t spoil anything, but I was on the edge of my seat, goosebumps flooding my body, and I couldn’t have loved the feeling of intensity that I haven’t felt in a movie all year any more than I did while watching Argo.
From beginning to end, Argo is 2012’s masterpiece. It’s the greatest film of the year so far, deserving of a Best Picture, director, and screenplay nominations. Ben Affleck directs this film (a piece superior to his last work, which I do love, The Town) with an ever-building intensity and fun 1970’s vibe. The script, penned by relative newcomer Chris Terrio has some great lines and down-to-the-wire intense moments, while also being heartfelt and often ferociously funny. Like Bryan Cranston utters in this film, “It is gonna take a miracle to get these people out”, it is going to take a miracle for something this year to beat Argo,undoubtedly one of the best movie-going experiences I’ve had in a long, long time.
FINAL GRADE: ★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10 stars)
FINAL SAY: Brilliantly directed, written, and acted Argo is an incredible, often funny, and nail-bitingly intense movie that rises to be the best film of 2012 so far by a longshot.
Argo will be released in theaters on October 12, 2012.