In the film Argo, producer Lester Siegel, played by Academy Award winner Alan Arkin, puts forth real effort into making a fake film a success as a perfect ruse to rescue six wanted Americans hiding at the Canadian Ambassador’s residence during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. The triple-threat of Ben Affleck (Argo‘s Producer-Director-Star) must have channeled the spirit of Siegel (the character for the film was the amalgamation of real-life f/x coordinator Bob Sidell and producer Barry Gellar) as he, along with fellow producers and Hollywood heavies George Clooney and Grant Heslov, created a real, memorable film crafted with the utmost of professionalism in detailing the story’s plight and rescue.
Affleck ups his game with his third directorial stint and moves away not only from his usual Boston locales but also from the present day. In doing so, he completely immerses the viewer into the period of the film. Alongside the requisite horror show that was the 70s fashion style as well as carefully-placed Star Wars memorabilia – that no doubt brought a tear to the eyes of fanboy friend Kevin Smith – Affleck restaged the storming of the US embassy with the all-too real documentary feel and cast lesser-known actors into the roles of the Americans allowing their performance, not their celebrity status, to carry the show.
Interchanged with this, is the flawless, and at times welcoming, editing of the situation in LA as Affleck’s character, CIA operative Tony Mendez, wheels and deals with Hollywood to create a tight cover story, the kind that only Tinseltown can. Affleck portrays LA as an open, bright and aloof place, contrasting the tight, grainy and oppressive situation in Tehran. Modern-day Hollywood itself makes the most subtle of appearances during the film’s climax through some of the drama during the airport escape including an almost-forced chase scene.
Backed with John Goodman’s smile and Bryan Cranston barking orders like he’s on the set of a Glen Larson TV show, Affleck delicately builds the tension leading up to the escape. Much like Cameron’s Titanic, the ending of the film is known, but the wielding of the personal dynamics, which is just one of reasons that made The Town so incredibly good, proves Affleck’s acumen. Affleck provides a fast-paced, suspenseful and, at times, humorous film that makes for great storytelling. Even more importantly, Argo furthers solidifies Affleck’s talent as writer/director and distancing himself from his roles in a host of truly-poor rom-coms and actioneers from the early 2000’s.