By James Gilmore
Ben Affleck’s Argo takes a clumsy script and transforms it into a seat-riveting filmic experience. He and his skillful editors successfully impress artificial tension upon the audience in spite of the script’s many shortcomings. Script problems magnify when translated to the big screen, and such issues become very evident as characters reveal their lives to each other in standalone cutaway scenes that serve no plot purpose. Affleck’s protagonist character, Tony Mendez, is poorly written, making him too weak and impotent in comparison to his fellow cast members.
The audience will feel a sudden jolt as they are thrust into and out of a tongue-in-cheek Hollywood sequence that is not in keeping with the tone of the rest of the film, and ultimately comes across as a series of inside jokes among Hollywood types more than a cohesive story segment. The final confrontation between protagonists and antagonists proves to be the most artificial construct of all, where editing alone creates the tension, not the clash of goal and obstacle, desire and counter-desire.
In short, Ben Affleck should quit acting and direct full-time, but he needs to learn to push the script to a final polish before jumping into making the film itself. With such spectacular directing talent it is a waste to not use equally judicious judgment in finishing the screenplay, as is evident in both Argo and his feature film directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. Still, audiences eagerly await his next work.
Rating: 3.5 / 5