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“Argo” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

October 9, 2012

“Argo” is a science-fiction/fantasy epic, about an intergalactic race that overthrows the tyranny in the universe, by a ‘dark shadow’, the heroic fierce leader of the story urges the people to take a stand and take back their home. An interesting parallel to the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis. While the unproduced screenplay that is “Argo” is a science-fiction epic, it was the blue print for something bigger and more important during a time where two countries we’re on the brink of madness, confusion, and fear. Ben Affleck returns for a third time in the director’s chair, telling the unbelievable true story about a C.I.A. operation that many officials found embarrassing and suicidal.

November 4th, 1980, the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point; the angry population raids the U.S. embassy. Six American’s luckily find an escape route, and finding safe housing in the Canadian embassy. But, it’s only a matter of time before the shredded documents of their identity are revealed, and sooner rather than later they will be taken. A CIA ‘exfiltration’ specialist, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) concocts a risky plan to free these Americans by setting up a fake movie, backed by a fake Canadian production company, intending to location scout in the country. Using this cover, Mendez hopes it will give these six people the freedom they deserve, but the clock is ticking…

It’s impressive how far Affleck has come as a director in the matter of three films. This is his second where he himself is in front of the camera as well. Normally I’m not the biggest Affleck actor fan, but lately, as a director he continues to nail it every step of the way. The opening scene in the film is some of the most incredible filmmaking I’ve seen in a long time. Affleck and his brilliant cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto have recreated the raid on the US embassy in such a realistic manner. The fluent combination of 35mm and 8mm home movie style finds a great common ground for realism. Making this feel as real as possible was unnerving at best, I mean, what American would actually want to be caught in the middle of all that tension and hostility?

Ben continues to prove that he has a knack for pulling together such a fantastic cast of actors all across the board; John Goodman & Alan Arkin provide solid comedic relief, Bryan Cranston as the C.I.A. director, gives a powerhouse performance, which isn’t at all surprising, coming from a show that gave him three Emmy wins in a row. Even Ben Affleck himself gives a intensified performance, he doesn’t crack a smile or jokes around at all in this film, and he is focused on one thing. My money however is on Cranston; I would love nothing more than to see him earn his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

“Gone Baby Gone” is a dark look into the corrupt world of police, “The Town” was about the business of stealing; “Argo” is a well-conceived spy thriller. In the respect for such films like “Titanic”, you know how the ending is going to turn out, but the high-octane tension and suspense getting to point A to point B is where the real unexpected thrills come into play. The last half hour of the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat. Just seeing how extremely close these people came is nothing short of amazing. “Argo” is a movie not to be missed, it’s unquestionably a major contender for the Best Picture nomination come Oscar time.

GRADE: A

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