“This is the best bad plan we have, sir” – Tony Mendez.
From gossip-rag pin-up to powerhouse director Ben Affleck has one of the most chequered careers in Hollywood. Channelling experience following his previous two features, tightly wound action thrillers Gone Baby Gone and The Town, his time behind the camera is proving most fruitful. His recounting of the true life story of Argo is no exception and further authorises his position as a meaningful director.
Set in late ‘70s Iran, amidst a violent revolution, a group of CIA operatives strive to rescue six of its US embassy officials who are trapped within the dangerous melting pot. Under the innovative guise of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for an artificial sci-fi flick, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez infiltrates the city’s capital Tehran and initiates one of the most audacious escape plans.
Chris Terrio’s taught script provides a perfect platform for the actors and they accept the invitation without hesitation. As the leading man is Affleck himself and he has never been better, but it’s the experienced heads of John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin who provide the truly memorable performances.
From the talents of the actors to the director’s impressive approach the film’s tone is balanced with absolute perfection. It maintains a retro aesthetic, blends priceless humour with breathtaking tension and most impressively all its sizeable cast are exquisitely managed. The narrative moves with incredible freedom; one moment we’re following the main characters on a white knuckle visit through the Grand Bazaar and the next we’re back in the US with the various professionals working tirelessly to ensure the plan comes together.
These aspects culminate to provide an incredibly authentic historical account, and even when Affleck strays from the truth and utilises his dramatic license it’s with astute talent. Affleck provides a final escape sequence of pure Hollywood, preposterous and entertaining, but completely befitting the narrative; giving his intelligent, gripping thriller the perfect send off.