Ben Affleck first showed Hollywood he was someone to watch in his breakout role in Good Will Hunting, which he co-wrote with best friend Matt Damon. Affleck’s career then took off with key roles in Armageddon, Shakespeare in Love and Pearl Harbor. His last attempt at producing, directing and starring in a movie was the critically acclaimed The Town — a tough act to follow. His new film Argo, based on a true story, will undoubtedly further cement his standing as a top producer, director and actor.
Co-produced by George Clooney, Argo tells the story of the six diplomats who escaped when the Iranians stormed the U.S. embassy in the infamous 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. The six escaped Americans found refuge in the Canadian ambassador’s home, while the remaining Americans were held hostage in their embassy for 444 days. Affleck’s portrayal of this important moment in American-Iranian relations is flawless, as is his handling of the subsequent rescue operation: The State Department attempts a long-term reconnaissance mission in Iran under the guise that they are filming a blockbuster science fiction movie.
Affleck made great effort to be historically accurate, only diverting from actual events slightly at the end to add some dramatic flair. During the credits he even compared images from the movie with the real-life images, which appeared almost identical. In a story in which the truth is stranger than fiction, Affleck understood what many directors fail to realize: if he faithfully represented the truth he would create a powerful movie.
The superb acting and screenwriting bring the story to life in riveting fashion. The star cast includes veteran actors Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber and Affleck himself. For all you Friday Night Lights fans out there, seeing Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) play the White House chief of staff was brilliant. The script and the acting both are intentionally understated, with a majority of the emotional effects done visually or, if spoken, in brilliantly delivered one-liners. The movie is undoubtedly moving for any American, particularly in light of the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya. By the end of the film, it becomes difficult to sit still, as Affleck masterfully entraps the audience to the point where you feel as if your life too depends on the success of his mission.
Affleck delivers a well-done historical thriller that is a must-see for everyone this movie season. Without making it seem overwrought or contrived, Affleck turned the story of a fake movie into a real cinematic hit. Incredibly well done and with just enough of a political message, Argo is one of the year’s best films and proves yet again what a talented filmmaker and actor Affleck has become.