Argo (2012) – 4/5

Solid, suspenseful film with a great opening and some pretty damn tense scenes throughout, even if a lot of them do feel heavily contrived and overtly dramatic. And for a film featuring a lot of really excellent television actors, no one performance stood out, really. Not a one. Maybe that one intimidating army guy near the end, but for the most part, everyone here is just fine: no bad performances, mind you, but no great ones either. Very odd, especially since the director, Ben Affleck, is himself an actor. Not a very good one, but an actor nonetheless. You’d think he know a thing or two about getting at least a few great performances out of his actors. He got Bryan Cranston and Kyle Chandler in this, for crying out loud, and that guy who played the Man in Black from Lost. What’s going on here?

Though the film is pretty good, much like the acting, it’s nothing great. It’s solidly written and ably directed, the cinematography is nice to look at, and the story is interesting, but it’s not nearly as great or spectacular as it’s been hailed as being. Everything about the film is just good, except the intense opening which brilliantly manages to suck you in almost immediately. But aside from that, and I guess the last 20 minutes or so, the film is pretty standard. It’s a caper in a way; a well made, well executed caper with a strong story somewhat based on fact. Nothing more. The Town was better; this, in some ways, felt like a step back for Affleck, but only a small one.

When you get down to it, Affleck isn’t that unique of a director, really. He has no real style or drive, he just knows story and has the connections and pull to attract and surround himself with extremely talented people who can help him maximize said story’s potential. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Many filmmakers do it. Most, actually. But he has his limits. He often has trouble convincingly pulling off the more emotional aspects of a story, for one. The weakest elements here, along with the forced suspense, are the scenes with his little boy; I just didn’t buy any of it. Giving the character a son he cares about felt like an afterthought, something someone told him he should put in after the fact to make his character “more sympathetic” to the audience. The Town had a similar problem with the relationship he tried to establish between himself and his love interest in that film. Very little of it felt real. Luckily, much like in that movie, it’s not focused on very often, just in a few scenes here and there. But man do they stick out.

Overall, it’s a good film. Solid, well crafted, well executed. But overrated. It’s a decent film, nothing more. I was also somewhat annoyed to find out after the fact that the character Affleck plays in this is Hispanic in real life. Of course they changed it to a white guy: Hollywood can’t have a Hispanic lead a major multi-million dollar film. Why, that would be blasphemy! To hell with historical facts, let’s just make everybody white! Except the bad guys, of course. Yeah!

Anyway, like I said, decent film, sometimes overly suspenseful, sometimes somewhat racist, but well made for the most part. Certainly made me never want to visit Iran, that’s for sure. Worth watching, but despite what you’ve heard, it’s not the greatest film ever made. It’s merely a little above average.

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    • sa’ad al-khatib
    • January 17th, 2013

    Anti-Iran and racist,shows iranians as browny raged full of hate people, putting that aside the film itself is not that great i liked the production design,comparing it to last years Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy which is another 70’s retro spy film it misrabley fails, and its simple direction and story telling doesn’t make it an amazing thriller either, But america and israel are having problems with Iran these days So i guess Hollywood had to deliver a film at the right time to brain wash and “” help the peace cause””.

  1. I have to agree. I left the theater thinking, “thats it?” For such an acclaimed film, I felt left out of the loop. Not a bad film by any stretch. But best picture? I think part of the issue with me was, I did not really care about the people he was trying to save. They barely felt worthy of saving. Comparing what they were going through with the co-workers left behind in the embassy, I just did not care as much about this group of 6. Now I doubt this is fair in reality. They were and are all probably lovely people. But I never felt any love or care for them in the film. And I think I should have.

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