‘Argo’, Ben Affleck’s Crowning Glory

How many times have you found a movie satiate your inner cravings for relentless entertainment as much as provide pleasure to your artistic senses. Well, you don’t have to look any further than ‘Argo’. We know Ben Affleck, the actor: a job he is admirably good at but not, by any stretch of imagination, brilliant at. Having seen his past two directorial efforts – ‘Gone Baby Gone’ and ‘The Town’, I knew that he is a better director than actor. And, without a shred of doubt ‘Argo’ thrust him into the top league of directors where his every next movie will be waited with bated breath. A film that deservedly got  7 Oscar nominations. It’s a pity that Ben Affleck didn’t get the Best Director nomination — a glaring omission that actually propelled ‘Argo’ to win Best Picture. ‘Argo’ is also one of those movies that glamorizes being a spy as the coolest job on the planet, even if extremely dangerous.

With the right blend of tension, drama, suspense, artistry, narrative arc and comedic relief, ‘Argo’ reaches the heights of a near-perfect film that every filmmaker aspires to make. While the film does take few cinematic liberties for the convenience of the script, it’s all done in spirit of heightening the tension so much so that you might find yourself gasping in awe or clutching your fists several times during its play. And the peak of that ever-growing tension reaches during climax, which puts a befitting end to the dramatic suspense.

Based on true events, ‘Argo’ is a story of the unbounded and exemplary display of adventurousness and audacity. On November 4, 1979 as the Iranian revolution against Americans reaches its boiling point, protestors storm US embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. In the midst of chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before all six are found out and likely executed, a CIA exfiltration expert named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of Iran. A plan that on the face of it can only be pulled off in movies.

As a director Ben Affleck does all his homework with a finesse of an ingenious painter. The production design of sets and the looks of actors resembling the 70s era has been done with immaculate pedigree. Editing is crisp and tout and is the prime reason behind the everlasting tension felt while watching the film. As an actor Ben Affleck underplays himself and lets the likes of Alan Akrin and John Goodman steal away the scene after scene. As the ending credits roll on, you realize that film’s dramatic moments might not be very far from the truths and actual happenings. As the saying goes – Truth sometimes is stranger than fiction. Overall, ‘Argo’ works on many levels – as a period piece, as a taut dramatic thriller or even as a tribute to courage and undying spirit of unsung heroes.