If you know anything about Ben Affleck The Actor/Political Activist, you know that he’s an unabashed liberal. If you know anything about him as a filmmaker, you know that he is perhaps better suited to working behind the camera than in front of it (see: Gigli, Jersey Girl, Daredevil). Affleck is one of those rare talents in Hollywood that is actually talented, but which Hollywood has long since forgotten how to utilize effectively in mainstream movies. He has thus been forced to make his own brand of movies that give voice to his leftist take on current and past events. After viewing Argo, the new movie in which he both stars and directs, this may not have been a bad thing.
Argo tells the story of six Americans that miraculously manage to escape from the Iranian militants that seized the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The six Americans find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador, but they know it is only a matter of time before they are all killed and must therefore find a way to escape the cruel fate that awaits them. A plot is hatched by three men – Tony Mendez (Affleck), a CIA operative, Lester (Alan Arkin) the producer, and John Chambers (John Goodman), a makeup man with a wild imagination. Essentially, their plan to free the six Americans is to lie to the Iranians by telling them that a major Hollywood production called “Argo” in need of desert locations is scouting shooting locales in Iran. The six Americans are trained to double as Hollywood types to make the plan work, and lest you think the whole idea is preposterous, be assured that this actually happened in real life. It was just concealed from the public eye for almost two decades.
The film has some truly amazing moments, especially when it comes to the undercover operatives working in tandem with their Iranian “enemies” who, irnocally, share a passionate love for cinema. Affleck steals the show in a brutally funny and unforced performance that makes you wonder where this talent has been residing all these years. You can feel his hand moving the camera throughout, not only when he’s on screen, but when he’s directing the commanding cast of players that includes Brian Cranston and Victor Garber.
A lot of people will see this movie and think it’s a liberal lefty fantasy about dealing with enemies in ways that don’t involve bombs, tanks, and international threats. To that I can only say: “And what is wrong with that?” A must-see.