Went with a friend to see Argo, Ben Affleck’s thriller about smuggling US officials out of revolutionary Iran. I know Affleck’s more than a pretty face, and loved Gone, Baby, Gone – a really intelligent, complex piece of work. Much less happy with this. My friend loved it. It’s gripping, incredibly easy to watch, and occasionally very funny – John Goodman and Alan Arkin having a ball as Hollywood execs helping out on the imaginary film front. So why wasn’t I more enthusiastic?
It’s partly US against the rest. The climax of the ecape is a powerful plane surging down the runway, while ineffectual Iranians in trucks ride alongside, shouting dire threats but unable actually to do a thing. We sigh with relief as the plane lifts off, but we’re also leaving behind extras who are threatening, impersonal, poor, inarticulate…Mmm, that’s a bit worrying.
But it’s also CIA man Tony Mendez (Affleck), against the rest. In the early stages of the planning, madcap scenarios for rescuing the group are ruthlessly shot down – and by Mendez every time. There’s this crowded room of security experts, but there’s only one guy who knows what’s going on.
He’s a great dad, natch. He’s always concerned for his son, and wants to give him a souvenir of his dad’s great coup, even if it remains an official secret. We’re never told why Mendez and his wife have split, but at the end he goes to see her, and waits patiently outside the house, asking her permission before he goes in. The absolute model of a well-behaved, considerate guy. And what does she do? She melts into his arms. Why? Hell, he’s just rescued six Americans who thought they were dead. We need personal uplift to match the political triumph. What more do you need to know?