To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much; let’s be honest, Affleck’s had a patchy career at best, so a sortie into directing had me fearing the worst. But, and here’s the key, the story looked really interesting. That Affleck was also trying to switch from leaden actor to lead actor didn’t help my fears either. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The story springs from the siege and takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. 6 Yanks get out of the back door, whilst fifty plus others are taken hostage as the Iranian Revolutionists try to barter for the return, from American soil, of the ousted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi who they want to press charges against. As the Iranian intelligence services begin to realise the fact that people are missing and likely on the run in Tehran, the CIA are desperately trying to conjure a plan to salvage the half dozen staff. Many run of the mill plans are suggested, but then rescue specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) pitches his idea: the six are in fact a Canadian film crew doing reccie work for an upcoming Star Wars rip-off. It’s at this point I should add that the film is based on fact; this happened.
I don’t want to say too much, as The Indie’s perennially harsh Anthony Quinn has in his 5 star review, as having loved this without any real knowledge of the story, I’d urge you to go along ‘blind’ too. There’s plenty of laughs; Alan Arkin and John Goodman‘s duo do especially well in slating Hollywood and there’s a great skit when Affleck suggests to Arkin’s long-toothed Hollywood director, that he should play the fake-film’s director. “Nah, you’re not a Director” says Arkin, “OK, producer?” replies Affleck, “Nah… Assistant Producer”.
The tension’s good and there’s a cracking knife in the back of the old ethos that all Yank films end in glory, as a potential enemy, who came good crosses the border into Iraq, just in time for the fun that lay ahead there. Sadly, it then segues back to schmaltzy, fluttering of the star-spangled banner and hugs and kisses in the US of A, which is why I’d drop it to 4 stars.
8/10 – An educational thriller, with laughs along the way – so #goseeit
PS Here’s the trail for Beasts of the Southern Wild if you fancy that…
- Ben Affleck’s Argo, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Argo (2012) (thereelcollection.wordpress.com)
- Twitter Q&A: Ask Ben Affleck About ‘Argo’ (uberinterest.wordpress.com)