Sunday, 3 February 2013

Argo (2012)

All this kicked off when I was but a mere sprog at the tender age of 1 year old, that's a long time ago folks. So Affleck steps up to the podium with an attempt at an epic, gritty, realistic political rollercoaster which is based on a true story where there wasn't actually that much danger truth be told.

Based on true events and more recently an article about the whole charade. The story involves a small group of Americans trapped in Iran after the US embassy was stormed and taken by militants. The group pretty much hide away in various places, moving around somewhat with the help of other foreign embassy folk until the Canadian Ambassador 'takes them in'. From there on the CIA conjure up a plan to extract the lost escapees by hoaxing the scouting of a major motion sci-fi picture and pretending the six Americans are crew members.

On the visual side of things this film did impress me, its pretty flawless as Iran is recreated right down to small details that were captured on film at the time (a man strung up by a large crane downtown). The clothes, hairstyles, cars, interior decorations, technology etc...are all spot on and captures the late 70's perfectly. The cast are all terrific and perform beautifully, I admit I don't know who most of them are (the escapees mainly) but they do a sterling job.

Alan Arkin is by far the best thing going for the A list actors on show. His gruff, rude outspoken manner is brilliant for his character of the film producer Lester Siegel (fictional character), great Hollywood type name too. John Goodman is here again!! this time he does a good job as old Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers. Not only is his calm demeanour very likeable and pleasant but he actually looks like the guy too.

When it comes to the lead role of Mendez played by Affleck I gotta take a step back from my enjoyment of the film. Like I say I did enjoy the film, but a nagging thought in my head just keeps telling me Affleck gave or saved the best meatiest role for himself...simply because it was his film and he could.
Yes Affleck does OK in the role, there is no machoism going on, no over the top acting, its all very straight laced and plain. But the fact his character was Latino and I don't think Affleck really looked like the guy either kinda makes me wonder why he just didn't cast someone more appropriate. Yes I realise what I just said doesn't mean Affleck wouldn't be good for the role and not give the right performance, but because he was the director I just sense a bit of self indulgence really. Meh! but that's just me.

So yep this was truly daring stuff, the kind of thing you'd half expect to hear from a dashing WWII adventure by us crafty Brits. As usual though we do have the problem of the Yanks taking a lot of credit for themselves and ignoring everyone else. As with a few other war stories, certain other parties involved in this plot have unfortunately been given a bit of the cold shoulder. To the common viewer it won't make a difference of course but to those involved it has been noticed and caused a slight stir.

Most of the film is a build up for the finale which doesn't disappoint I guarantee. The whole finale is a bit predictable naturally but it still grabs you by the collar. Even the build up is interesting which surprised me as I expected lots of dull political/government spiel from lots of grey suited blokes with thick rimmed glasses and hair partings you could sail a boat down.

The film in general, I must give kudos to Affleck and his team for what they have achieved. Despite the need for adding a few Hollywood moments to rack up the tension like the runway chase and various sweat inducing confrontations, the film is reasonably accurate and highly enjoyable. Probably the most exciting tense ride I've experienced in a film for sometime where no one actually gets shot or killed!