Sunday, October 14, 2012

Extrapolated exodus

The latest Ben Affleck-directed project, the gripping “Argo” recalls the ordeal and rescue of US Embassy workers hiding in Iran over three decades ago.

Six American diplomats narrowly flee the US Embassy building in Tehran, which was soon overrun by enraged Iranian protesters. Evading the subsequent hostage crisis, the Americans find refuge in the Canadian ambassador’s home.

Enter Tony Mendez (Affleck), a CIA extractions specialist who concocts an elaborate plan to sneak the hidden Americans out of the country. Utilizing resources and Hollywood connections, Mendez uses a bogus science fiction movie, “Argo,” to create new identities for himself and the six diplomats. They’ll pretend to be a Canadian film crew reviewing locations for the movie!

Very well-paced, “Argo” is a serious nail-biter, even for those who may have prior knowledge of, or a familiarity with the real events that inspired the film. Affleck’s latest directorial endeavor presents a vast, circuitous conundrum that stuns and shocks.

Balancing the dark, agoraphobic chaos are the comic, comely trappings of Hollywood, where “Argo’s” absurdities make complete sense. Supposedly jumping the scifi film bandwagon, “Argo’s” designs are heavily inspired by “Star Wars” and “Flash Gordon.” The faux film’s producer (Alan Arkin) and effects artist (John Goodman) aid and abet Mendez in the delicate mission, providing the incredible story a lighter and differently revealing side.

Affleck is competent as Mendez; he’s mostly stoic and collected, but still manages to come off as very human during the planning and execution of the mission. Affleck’s still a little vain, yes--he slips in a few seconds of himself shirtless again. Attention to other details is impressive; the director manages to wrangle the complex aspects of the strangely real “Argo” enterprise and deliver a tense and thrilling getaway caper.

“Argo” will be in Philippine cinemas starting Oct. 17. 

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