Argo: Highly interesting, slightly boring
TWO AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated R for language and some violent images
I’ve always been a big fan of Ben Affleck, and seeing him resurrect his career by becoming a top notch director is something I’ve greatly enjoyed watching. The first two films he directed, Gone Baby Gone and The Town were both fantastic, and so I had high hopes for Argo. In a way, the movie delivered what I expected, but in the end it feels kind of like a well made History Channel program.
The film is based on a true story. It’s set around the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran where the American Embassy was seized and the Americans inside were held hostage. Argo tells the story of six embassy workers who escaped and lived in secret in the Canadian ambassador’s house awaiting rescue.
Honestly, the idea of Argo is almost more entertaining than actually watching it. The escape plan involved a CIA backed fake sci-fi movie that pretended to be scouting for locations in Iran, then snuck out the six embassy members by disguising them as members of the film crew.
It’s a truly great story, but the tension bleeds out of the movie early on. After a pretty intense scene that shows the embassy getting seized by angry Iranians, the film falls into far too many clichés. Aside from one more inspired scene later in the film, all of the drama feels forced. Every scare the escapees face on their way out of the country is something we’ve seen a thousand times in movies. It manufactures a clear line where this goes from “I can’t believe this really happened” to “this is the part that they added on to make it a tense movie.”
None of the actors in the film shine too brightly, but everyone is incredibly solid. Affleck is great as the CIA extraction specialist, and even though he plays the role with a quiet intensity, he does it very well. Bryan Cranston is quite good as a CIA boss, and John Goodman and Alan Arkin are both fun as they portray the Hollywood insiders that help make the fake movie seem real.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, but it’s hard to call it great entertainment. The tension is far too manufactured through most of it, and like I mentioned above, the whole thing just feels more like a great History Channel show than a blockbuster movie.
Affleck’s directing is fantastic, and the film looks great, but if you’re looking for an entertaining outing to the movies, you might want to pick something else. Argo is best left for a rental.
This Weekend at the Theater
Four new movies are releasing this weekend as this busier than usual October continues to see lots of films opening. First up is Cloud Atlas, a time spanning film starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Created by the Wachowskis (creators of The Matrix trilogy), this film spans several different time periods and sees Hanks, Berry and other stars play many different roles. The film is going to be far too odd for some, but a gorgeous trailer has generated a lot of interest in the movie.
The next new release this weekend is Silent Hill: Revelation. This is the second horror film in the Silent Hill franchise, which is based on a video game. The first film didn’t do spectacular back in 2006, but filmmakers hope a return to the material will get them some success this time around as they tell the story about a reality bending town where unspeakable horrors roam.
Also releasing this weekend is the teenage party film Fun Size. Receiving very little promotion, this looks to be your typical teenaged film. With no notable stars, expect this one to disappear from theaters almost as quickly and quietly as it’s appeared.
The final new release is the sports film Chasing Mavericks. This surfing film is based on the life of a real surfer and tells the story of a young man wanting to take on some of the most dangerous waves in America. Gerard Butler is getting attention for his role in this one, but it’s still hard to see this movie appealing to much of the audiences out there, especially with so many other choices available right now.
Releasing on home video this week is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer, Magic Mike, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection.