Somehow not an advertisement for facial hair in the 70s (though there’s some lovely moustaches on show) Ben Affleck’s Argo continues the actor-turned-filmmaker’s incredibly impressive streak since he decided to go behind the camera with 2007′s Gone Baby Gone.
After the pressures in Iran pass boiling point and the American Embassy is seized, and hostages taken, six individuals manage to escape the horrors and secretly find shelter with the Canadian ambassador. Adamant to get the escapees back onto American soil, CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) concocts a plan where he will enter Iran under the context that he is the producer for a new sci-fi film scouting for locations, and under that guise, manage to help the six Americans escape to safety.
Kicking off with an opening five minutes that will get anyone’s palms sweaty, Argo is Hollywood entertainment at its most effective. Embodying the obscurity of its plot (amazingly, based on true events) with some excellent sharp and snappy writing, it doesn’t forget the seriousness of its actions and the high stakes if they were to fail. With Affleck showing the skills of a director beyond his years and a real control of his narrative, constructing the tension with an applaud worthy understanding of how to play with his audience, shredding plenty of nerves along the way.
The script is tight and, when it wants to be, hilarious, making it one of the best popcorn thrillers of recent years. Basically, Affleck’s made a winner here, effortlessly appealing to not only the loyal cinemagoer but also the masses. It oozes confidence, style and a vigour that is welcomed from a film of this scale. With a suitability balanced cast – John Goodman and Alan Arkin deliver the laughs, creating a wonderful tonic to the the heavier side of the story – it has everything you need, ticking each box of ‘what makes a great thriller’ with every passing minute.
Blood-pumpingly entertaining and paced within an inch of its life, Argo shows us, however strange it may sound, that Ben Affleck is one of the most promising young American directors of his generation. His talent behind the camera is undeniable and with obvious award love around the corner, it seems that we’ll be hearing a lot more of Argo over the coming months.