Review: Argo (2012)

Cinema these days is dominated by remakes and reboots and sequels and adaptations; there are rare exceptions, sure, but film studios and filmmakers seem too scared to attempt something original.

Argo (2012)

Argo (2012)

Based on little known but true-life story. As in Michigan, so in Iran. At the height of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, with yellow ribbons tied around half the old oak trees in America, a CIA agent and a couple of Hollywood professionals dreamed up a cockamamie scheme to free six Americans who had found refuge in the Canadian embassy. Their existence had to remain a secret to protect Canada’s diplomatic status.

The pacing of the film is energetic and Affleck like David Fincher in Zodiac relishes the pre-digital world of rotary phones, telexes, filing cabinets, cigarettes. Gags and suspense are hard to mix successfully, but Affleck makes it happen! The last 20-30 minutes I was on the edge of my seat and biting my nails. I’ve never been so relieved to hear an air steward state that they were able to serve alcohol again.. I wanted to cheer with the six. Albeit Argo is a great film depicting the strength of the human spirit, and the lengths that people will go to protect their owns it received criticism from Iran for delineating Iranians as terrorists and murderers with which I absolutely agree.

Another staple of Affleck’s films is his knack at picking a stellar cast, and the cast for Argo is fantastic. Bryan Cranston. John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Scoot McNairy, Victor Garber, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina. And that’s not even the full list of excellent supporting cast. So many brilliant actors acting brilliantly. It’s a treat to watch. Each of the lead actors gets a moment to shine, whether it’s Arkin and Goodman trading barbs, Scoot McNairy’s airport performance, or Cranston’s running around. Still Affleck’s character is quite static and somewhat one-dimensional.

And this Affleck kid? He definitely has a career on both sides of the camera. But a part of me wishes he hadn’t cast himself in the lead role. Perhaps the time has come to think about spending more time behind the camera rather than in front of it. Argo isn’t quite on the level of the Sidney Lumet classics to which Affleck pays stylistic homage—smart and taut as it is, it lacks the broader political vision of a film like Dog Day Afternoon. But Lumet lite still goes down pretty smooth.

A very dramatic, exciting, heart wrenching, reverting and occasionally humorous film. Argo is, fortunately; a must-see! 8/10

– Ajinkya

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