Over the years, Ben Affleck has taken some flak for his acting abilities. I never thought Affleck was that bad and am one of the few people who actually enjoyed the movie Daredevil. However, Affleck found a new niche. He directed Gone Baby Gone in 2007, which was a fantastic film. His brother, Casey Affleck, nailed the leading role in Gone Baby Gone and led people to believe Ben Affleck should stick to directing and hire his brother to play the roles that he couldn’t.
Three years later, Affleck comes out with a second film, The Town, to prove Gone Baby Gone wasn’t a fluke. Not only did The Town earn the admiration of critics, but also Ben Affleck starred in the leading role. The Town not only established Affleck as a prominent director, but also proved he could put together a solid acting performance.
Gone Baby Gone and The Town both earned a 94% rating at Rotten Tomatoes while users at the Internet Movie Database also enjoyed both films (Gone Baby Gone 7.8 out of 10 stars, The Town 7.6 out of 10 stars). After two glowing successes, what could Affleck do next to continue his directing prowess? To answer that question, Affleck moved away from movies based in the Boston area and turned to a historic event.
The Iranian Hostage Crisis was one of the most embarrassing situations in U.S. history. We allowed our people to be held hostage for more than a year. It serves as a representation of the weakness of the presidency of Jimmy Carter. I wasn’t alive during this time, but looking back at history in the time of the Cold War when we were trying to out-muscle the Soviet Union, the U.S. looked weak.
In 1980 alone, we boycotted the Olympics, which didn’t give us a chance to show our strength in athletics and allowed Iranians to take over our embassy. If it weren’t for the Miracle on Ice, the U.S. would not have shown its strength in any way during that time period. Well it turns out we did show strength during the Iranian Hostage Crisis and Affleck helped display it to historic perfection.
The mission of the fake Argo movie, which was used to help six Americans escape from Iran, was classified. Before then the credit for the mission was given to Canada. The Canadian embassador housed the six Americans in Iran during the crisis, but CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with the operation and executed the mission.
The movie truly put the audience back in the 1980 time period. The characters were dead on to the real life people. The story was slightly bloated to make it more exciting, but that’s necessary for entertainment value. Ben Affleck also did a nice job in the leading role. Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman also fit their roles perfectly and delivered some great lines, which is a credit to the writers.
I don’t like calling movies flawless, but Argo was clean cut. It felt real. One thing I find remarkable about movies is their attention to detail. A few of the movies that come to mind are Invictus and The Fighter. Many of the characters in Invuctus looked a lot like the people who actually played on the South African rugby team. Also in The Fighter, Christian Bale nails his charatcer by capturing his exact personality. He rightfully so won best supporting actor in 2009 for his efforts. That is what Argo had. Its attention to detail made it a fantastic film.
The only issue I have with it is the interest factor. I feel if movie-goers don’t have any interest in the topic, audiences won’t enjoy the movie. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it does anything to pull in audiences. However, the numbers suggest Argo will continue to have good legs in the box office.
THE BOTTOM LINE: My favorite Affleck directed film is still Gone Baby Gone, but Affleck continues to show he is one of the best directors in the business by matching and maybe even surpassing the critical acclaim of his first two films with Argo.
I’ll give Argo 4 1/2 out of 5 cups.
As of Oct. 25, Argo made a domestic total of approximately $48 million versus a production budget $44.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
To see the movie trailer for Argo, click here.