ArgoI find it amazing that some people out there still find it hard to believe that Ben Affleck has managed to carve a career out for himself as an accomplished film director.

Sure the man had his misfires such as Pearl Harbour and Gigli, but that was hardly a reason to label the man as a complete failure with no future.

This is after all one half of the Oscar winning duo that wrote the frankly brilliant Good Will Hunting.

So it’s with some great relief that the man has gone on to craft films as entertaining as The Town and Gone Baby Gone.

Argo follows along this promising trend and is perhaps Affleck’s most ambitious, balanced and accomplished film to date.

Part drama, part comedy and part political thriller, it’s an ensemble piece that tells the impossibly believable story of how the CIA managed to extract 6 US diplomats from under the nose of a new regime in Iran, by pretending to be a movie production crew scouting for new locations.

The fact that the film is based upon true events firmly grounds the proceedings in reality and while some have questioned it’s historical accuracy, the cinematography makes good use of documented events which gives Argo a somewhat documental quality to it.

Affleck stars as the films lead, Tony Mendez. While many may think that this is an indulgent move on his part, Affleck’s take on the character is somewhat understated and his restrained persona actually allows some of the supporting characters to shine.

Alan Arkin gives yet another solid performance as the fake film’s producer Lester Siegel, while John Goodman plays make-up artist legend John Chambers to great effect. With their dry wit and somewhat bitter opinion of the Hollywood system, it’s actually quite refreshing to see a film that so openly lampoons the industry for all it’s fakery.

In contrast to these more lighter moments, when the film takes the viewer to the events happening in Iran, the dire predicament that the US diplomats are in really hits home.

Hunted by the whole country, the film shows these people for they really are – not soldiers, not trained CIA agents, just simple office workers petrified for their lives, hiding in a country in which they trapped and wanted by just about every person living there.

It’s a contrast of events that could so easily have a jarring effect for the viewer, but Affleck manages to balance them perfectly.

Visually, the Argo stands apart too. Much like how Scorsese used different filming techniques of the day to represent the time periods in The Aviator, Argo has a very late 70’s and grainy, scratched look to it. This is immediately apparent from when the film starts with the old Warner Bros’ logo, a nice trick that instantly sets the viewer in the time period that the events are set.

The pacing of the film never lets up and even during some of the more comical moments, the importance of what Mendez is trying to achieve. It’s tense, so tense in fact that I bit most of my nails off during Argo’s final act.

With Argo, Ben Affleck has once again proved himself to be quite the capable filmmaker.

From now on, people should no longer be surprised by the man’s new found career path and if the Academy comes knocking at his door with another Oscar nomination, I wouldn’t be surprised.

So yes. See Argo, it’s a finely put together film that tells an unbelievable story of how an elaborate and ultimately fake story played a part in one of the most important undercover operations ever to take place in the Middle East.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.