314) Argo (2012) Dir: Ben Affleck Date Released: October 12, 2012 Date Seen: October 10, 2012 Rating: 3.25/5
Ben Affleck's third directorial effort is a trifle, but it's immediately pretty engaging. I cared about Argo for the same reason I cared about the guy's last two films: they're propulsive and they're usually only as weak as they are emotionally shallow. Argo is not a thoughtful movie, or an emotionally involving one either. But that's because right now, Affleck's just a capable craftsman. He's got the skill but none of the inspiration that might make his films more than just superficially involving. The operatic violence of Gone Baby Gone and The Town is exciting, so much so that I'd gladly go to bat for the latter film's Michael Mann-inspired action scenes. But both of Affleck's last two films are emotionally flat, though Affleck overcomes some of his narrative's shortcomings and his own weaknesses as a story-teller by having his characters strike bathetic poses.
Argo is Affleck's most consistent film yet because its narrative doesn't require viewers to understand its characters' motives. What matters most in Argo is the apparent understanding that events need to happen immediately since lives are at stake. It's basic, straight-forward, mostly satisfying, and largely forgettable. Why is anyone surprised it's a hit?
At the same time: the political blinders Affleck had on when he made this film don't bother me. I don't really care if he was unwittingly myopic in his representation of Iranians. Because, yes, this is the story he's chosen to tell, and yes, it's not that big of a stretch to think that in that particular moment, urgency, stealth and the dissembling appearance of conviction was all that mattered. Any threat to those goals is an obstacle, political or otherwise. I tend to think the film is more apolitical than some of its critics do. But I also don't really care to think too much about a movie I only kind of liked.