Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Argo

Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews Ben Affleck's tense, smart thriller about how the Central Intelligence Agency attempted to rescue six Americans trapped in Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis by staging a fake movie production:

For a little while it looked as if Ben Affleck might try to be the next Harrison Ford: He starred in action movies like “Daredevil” and “Armageddon” and even briefly filled Mr. Ford’s old shoes in the role of Tom Clancy hero Jack Ryan in 2002’s “The Sum of All Fears.”

But Mr. Affleck’s career as a blockbuster leading man never quite soared, and in recent years his directing efforts, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” have shown more promise than any of his gigs in front of the camera. “Argo,” Mr. Affleck’s third directorial turn, suggests a different path for his career: Following not Mr. Ford, but Ron Howard, the actor-turned-director who, with films like “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind,” often represents the epitome of major-studio competence.

Mr. Affleck’s sensibility is grittier than Mr. Howard’s and considerably more focused on violence, as well as the sociological factors that create it. But his confident work on “Argo” suggests that, like Mr. Howard, he is a director who can be counted on to deliver as a solid and engaging storyteller.

Part of the trick, of course, is selecting good material. “Argo” certainly qualifies. It’s the so-strange-it-could-only-be-true tale of a secret CIA mission to rescue six American diplomatic officers who managed to escape from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun to start the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

Read the whole review in today's Washington Times

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  • Ice Nine||

    I'm embarrassed to say that I saw a bit of O'Reilly's show last night as I did some pre-debate surfing. Affleck was on the show pitching this flick. I wanted to hate him because, predictably, he's voting for Obama. Didn't work; he is a very polite and likeable guy, FWIW.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Still doesn't excuse Affleck, or O'Reilly for that matter, from erroneously thinking that they could contribute anything meaning to a discussion on politics.

  • Ice Nine||

    Part of what was appealing about Affleck was that he didn't really want to discuss it.

  • R C Dean||

    This actually looks like it might be worth my time. Huh.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He starred in action movies like...“Armageddon”...

    Hint, Suderman: When giving a movie a positive review, it's not a good idea to compare it unfavorably to a FAR superior movie from the Golden Age of Cinema.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You haven't even seen Argo, it might be as good as Arma...

    Oh man I can't even finish writing that sentence. I tried.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Uh, unless he's reviewing Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan or maybe Taken, it's not better than Armageddon.

  • Peter Suderman||

    Armageddon was an OK team mission comedy. But it was a crappy, crappy action movie.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You're forgetting the love story.

    And if I want action, I'll watch The Rock, two solid hours of pure action, punctuated only by deeply philosophical and political dilemmas.

    If the rocket renders it aerosol, it could take out an entire city of people.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah and Deep Impact was the better comet ends the world movie that year.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I like Armageddon better the first time I saw it when it was called Deep Impact.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm not sure we're all talking about the same movie.

  • Raven Nation||

    It was almost worth it for the scene nearing the beginning where Bruce Willis is driving golf balls into the Greenpeace ship.

  • Rasilio||

    Wait, I thought Suderman was contractually obligated to review one of the same movies as Loder?

  • Rasilio||

    Also, it is a good thing Aflek go over his bad movie choices otherwise we'd be talking about a movie adaptation of Banned From Argo instead

  • Aresen||

    Can you spell "Revisionist History"?

    Remind us Canadians never to pull your balls out of the fire again.

  • robc||

    We will send you the bill for rebuilding the White House then.

  • Aresen||

    At this point, I think the US would pay us to do it again.

    We could agree to do it every 200 years.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Yeah, well we kicked your ass in WWII.

  • Aresen||

    ?

    Was that before or after Elenor Roosevelt's Coronation in that particular alternate universe?

  • Voros McCracken||

    Stimulus!

  • Brett L||

    Next you'll be telling us that you won the war of 1812.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    We did

  • ||

    i agree with the author. the town was a very good movie, as was gone daddy gone.

    affleck's tour as jack ryan was AWFUL, but that's largely the fault of the pc production, that changed the terrorists from islamists to "neo-fascists". the movie lost all credibility at that point. simply put, affleck is too pretty and he is not credible as an action star. his best work is comedic imo, like the kevin smith stuff, etc. did ANYBODY buy affleck as jack ryan? alec baldwin may be an insufferable liberal ass, and a crappy father, but at least he could play jack ryan convincingly

    the town PERFECTLY captures charlestown btw. i don't recall any other movie that has done so nearly as well

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    the town was a very good movie, as was gone daddy gone.

    "Gone Daddy Gone" is a song.

    But I also agree with the larger point. As terrible as some of BA's acting choices have been, he's a competent director.

  • ||

    ugh,. my bad! :)

    well, if it makes any difference, my band in college covered a bunch of violent femmes tunes (i play guitar). so, i had them on my mind or something...

  • Stormy Dragon||

    affleck's tour as jack ryan was AWFUL

    Given that two great actors, Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford had already had the roll, it's also not suprising the BA ended up looking weak by comparison.

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