Alright, so let’s get this right out of the way first – I don’t want to like Ben Affleck. I really, really don’t. I’ve never thought he was much of a good actor (Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl anyone? No? Didn’t think so), and I was pretty much of the opinion that he rode Matt Damon’s coattails to success after the excellent Good Will Hunting, which is, even still to this day, probably the best thing he’s ever been a part of. I actually think that this video right here best represents my opinion of Ben Affleck as an actor/writer…but dammit, I think I have to grudgingly accept the fact that the man has found his true calling as a director. Who knew, amiright? Maybe he laid off the pot, cocaine, and pointing at random people at parties and saying “ok, I think YOU are the guy who’s gonna get me drugs tonight!” (Yes, I know a true story about Ben Affleck from someone who met him once, and that’s what he said to him – true celebrity status right there, I know) and decided to make something of his life. Argo is an incredibly intense, excellently acted (*sigh*, even a good performance from Affleck, I GUESS), thrill ride of a movie. I’ll even drop a cliche bomb on you up in hea and say that it’s like a roller coaster of a movie. You will be riveted, you will be on the edge of your seat. It is that good. I still contend that Gone Baby Gone is the best movie he has directed and probably always will be (he even co-wrote that one too, s*** I guess I HAVE to like him now…) – quite possibly since he isn’t even in it, his much more talented brother is, in fact turn off my review right now and go rent that first before you see Argo, but still, this movie is great, and not like most of the things you will see in theaters these days – aren’t most of the movies I review on here in that category anyways?
The first thing I want to talk about this time is the supporting cast, cuz man, did Affleck pull out all the stops for this one, it has some of the best names, the always greats, in this one – you got Bryan Cranston, Walter White himself, as Affleck’s passionate boss, you got John Goodman (man, remember King Ralph?! Total classic) and Alan Arkin stealing every single scene they are in, playing the producers of the fake movie that Affleck’s character Tony needs to make in order to rescue these hostages from the absolutely insane country of Iran in 1979. I’m pretty sure Iran is more or less always insane, but JESUS, if there was ever a movie to show that you should never, EVER, EVER go to Iran, or you will DIE, it is this movie. But I digress. Even the people he is trying to get out – essentially played by some unknowns except for Tate Donovan – who can forget the voice of Hercules, after all – all nail their roles and really bring you into the movie.
So then, just what exactly the hell is this movie about, you may be asking. Well, honestly, this movie pretty much writes itself. I’m not even sure how hard the writer Chris Terrio had to work on the script, because, man, this story was MADE to be told in a movie. This is the tale of six members of an American embassy who are trapped in Iran when they escape to the Canadian embassy there after the s*** hits the proverbial fan and all hells breaks loose at their embassy at the beginning of the movie. This is due to us zany ol’ Americans deciding that that fine chap Ayatollah – don’t worry that isn’t a wikipedia link and he’s MOST ASSUREDLY not on imdb though I’m sure he’d have played a fine supervillain since he WAS one in real life – who was dying of cancer, should be extradited to the US and held there to be tried for his crimes. Admittedly, our faces were a little red here, I know, insane that the US would butt their noses in something that probably wasn’t our business, we’ve certainly NEVER done that ever, right? So it was our bad doing this, we should have thrown this psychopath to the wolves in Iran, who didn’t like him none too much on account of him killing lots of their brethren and babies n such, this type of activity is usually frowned upon. So, since we effed up, Iranians are a tad pissed, decide to storm our embassy. Now, I’m not entirely sure how all of this REALLY went down, but this is the opening of this movie, and it is INCREDIBLY intense. I mean like, you WILL be nervous, you will not know what to expect. This is a testament to…*sigh*…to Ben Affleck’s directing prowess, because it is filmed in a harrowing fashion and honestly you won’t even be sure whether ANYONE is going to make it out of alive in this mess, let alone the six that eventually do. It is crazy, and honestly I don’t think I’ve been that nervous in the theater since arguably the most claustrophobic scene ever filmed at about the midway point of the brilliant Punch Drunk Love.
So it is Affleck’s characters’ – sporting some BOSS facial hair and chops in this movie, as you can see – who plays a CIA operative who specializes in these sorts of rescue dealies, job to get these people out. There are some hilarious scenes reflecting the ineptitude of our government leading up to Affleck’s arguably shaky idea, one in particular that has them cooking up an idea to rescue them with BIKES that they can ride all throughout Iran to be rescued eventually (“and hopefully we’ll be waiting at the border with Gatorade…” quips Affleck), until this idea of a fake movie has some merit. Tony’s kid is the maguffin here – he dreams up the idea of making a sci-fi movie since they were all the rage in 1979 (Star Wars HAD just came out, after all…) when he is watching Planet of the Apes with his kid on the phone. We don’t care about his family and we never need to, it isn’t the focus of the movie. I suppose we all need to have something to root for the hero, something he can come home to, but this movie is so good that that extra filler isn’t necessary. The kid only serves the purpose of giving Affleck the idea.
It is here where he meets scene stealers John Goodman and Alan Arkin, who gives by far and away his best performance since Little Miss Sunshine, maybe even better than that. Wait…has he BEEN in anything since that movie?! Eh, who cares, he rules. He has laugh out loud funny lines all throughout, including one that I can’t print here that could almost be the tagline for the movie, and him and Goodman add much needed comic relief to an incredibly intense movie. They are probably the best parts of the movie aside from the story itself, and with their help the movie idea is off and running. I don’t need to explain much more of the plot, you just have to see it for yourself. But the fact that this is based on a true story, which of course means that some liberties were taken to entertain us, but damn, if most of this is true, then this is one of the most incredible stories the CIA has ever been a part of.
I will go on record and say that the last twenty minutes or so of this movie are probably the most intense I’ve ever seen on film. Yeah, I went there. My best friend watched this after I HIGHLY recommended it to her and she was texting me (she watched it at home people, don’t worry, she wasn’t one of THOSE people…) during these last few moments saying “I can’t take it, omg what is gonna happen?!” and she was riveted the entire time. You will be too. This movie deserves all the praise it is receiving and is most assuredly one of the best of the year, I’d imagine it might end up with an Oscar for the writer here although maybe thats unfair because like I said, this story pretty much wrote itself. But it is incredible, intense, well acted, and provides just enough comic relief to take you out of the tension at crucial moments. It is worth the price of admission just for the last 20 minutes alone. Go see it immediately.