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Argo [spoilers, duh]

‘Argo’. Ben Affleck, take a bow. A magnificent achievement in pacing and tension, bringing an unbelievable true story to life.

There’s a line towards the beginning, when they’re trying to sell The Hollywood Option, that goes something like, “And everybody knows they’d shoot in Stalingrad with Pol Pot directing if it would sell tickets.” 

This cynical undercurrent that still permeates through Hollywood today, arguably more so, grounds this film in a believability that would be hard to artificially create solely for this film. It’s one of the many cheeky shots the film takes, having a go at acting, directing and everything in between. 

Affleck’s camera movements are frenetic and clear all at once, swooping, circling and darting rapidly on occasion, most noticeable in the opening hysteria at the embassy. 

The last twenty or so minutes, where ‘Argo’ ratchets up the tension, is owed in large to some brilliant editing, switching between the four parties involved, while never needing to cheat the audience in taking them down a false path. There was an audible sign of relief in the theatre when that plane finally takes off!

Then there’s Ben Affleck the actor. First things first. I have a large man-crush on his beard. Affleck doesn’t overplay his character, but he nails the emotional moments, and I was totally on board his crazy plan, with his heart very much in the right place. 

The supporting cast is insane, but Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin shine the brightest, getting the killer lines written by Chris Terrio.

I loved ‘Gone Baby Gone’ and ‘The Town’. It gives me great pleasure to see Affleck stretching out from his familiar Boston, making something completely different, and getting it so right. 

 

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