133 of 160 people found the following review helpful
Tense, intelligent, and even quite funny
, November 24, 2012
This review is from: Argo [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Ben Affleck continues to prove himself one of Hollywood'd best, most intelligent 'mainstream' film-makers. In Argo he manages to combine nail-biting suspense created with a minimum of violence or standard movie action, a sharp, dark sense of humor about the weirdness of both espionage and Hollywood, and makes a film about getting American hostages released from Iran without giving in to jingoism.
Affleck even takes the time at the beginning of the film to put the Iranian revolution into a larger context of prior American involvement and manipulation in Iran's politics, thus making the Iranians' hostage taking horribly wrong, but also somewhat human and understandable.
The story itself is a doozey, and definitely fits into the `you'd never believe it if it weren't true' mold. Using a fake movie as a cover-up for a long- shot rescue operation sounds like a bad episode of `Mission Impossible' (or even `Get Smart'). But here it is, a part of history.
I have only two small complaints about the film. First, other than Alan Arkin's and John Goodman's deliciously funny performances as the Hollywood end of the deal, not many of the other characters are given as much texture as they might, especially considering how strong the cast is. Perhaps the fear was slowing down the film with character details, but I would have gladly watched a few minutes more to know these people better on a human level.
More problematically there are a number of key moments where the suspense is trumped up needlessly by throwing in some very "Hollywood" conceits (coincidences, physical impossibilities, the real story of the climax being abandoned in favor of more overt dramatics, etc) in a film that didn't need them, a film where the whole point is how real world spy operations are miles from what we usually see in films.
Neither of these flaws seriously damage a very, very good film, but I couldn't help some minor disappointment when I felt the film go for the `movie moment' over truth. But this is still a highly entertaining and intelligent thriller, and that's to be applauded.
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