Argo – 4.5 stars

The pace is brisk, the acting for the most part superb, the feel genuine, and the final act white-knuckle. Ben Affleck’s tale of the clandestine evacuation of 6 Americans hiding in Tehran after the storming of the American embassy is almost as incredible as the actor’s improbable rise as a director after a long plummet from the heights of A list actor.

What is true is that 6 Americans made it out of the U.S. embassy into the hands of Canadian embassy personnel and that a fake sci-fi movie was created as cover for their exit posing as the film crew. That’s about the sum total of what is accurate in this movie.  Affleck takes this nifty premise and constructs a gripping yarn around it, one that is lessened only a little by Affleck’s leaden acting as CIA operative Tony Mendez and a shopworn and unnecessary theme built around his family woes. Affleck’s handling of the storming of the embassy (which was very accurate) and the tense escape via the airport (a near complete concoction) is assured, and the creation of an Alan Arkin Hollywood producer for comic effect is savvy.

After Gone Baby Gone, The Town and this film, Affleck is a top 5 director.

Imagine that.

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