With Argo, Ben Affleck is working with a bigger scale than ever as a director — and he's delivered his best film to date. Affleck has proven his skills behind the camera with Gone Baby Gone and The Town, dark tales set in his beloved Boston, but Argo feels far away from those — and not just geographically. Though the story is based on a well-known historical crisis, the tone is a balance of serious and lighthearted, and everything from the scope (the film moves around from Iran to Washington DC to LA) to the huge cast demands more from Affleck. He succeeds, and the film's triumph marks Affleck's maturity as a director.
Based on a true story, Argo tells the tale of how CIA specialist Tony Mendez (played by Affleck) devises an unusual strategy for extracting American hostages from Iran in 1979. After an attack on the US embassy in Tehran, six workers (including Tate Donovan and Clea DuVall) are forced to flee and hide out in the Canadian ambassador's home. Faced with no other good ideas, Mendez turns to the film industry, using two Hollywood insiders (John Goodman and Alan Arkin) to help him create buzz for a fake movie (called Argo) and pretend that the hostages are actually working on the film so he can get them out of Iran. It's a premise that sounds almost too outlandish to be true, but true it is, and the real-life facts are skillfully woven into a heart-pounding drama. To find out what else I thought of Argo, just keep reading.