I could be mistaken but I feel the wrong approach towards making a film with a historical setting is to play the whole thing straight, like nobody knows what’s going to happen. Knowing the ending hurts this film a lot. The first act of Argo, where it’s unknown what plan the CIA is going to go with to rescues the Americans? Waste of time. The tension as the audience wonders if the group will be able to hold together despite the pressure of the situation? Non-existent. The final “chase” where our heroes sit calmly in a plane while their pursuers frantically use every method available to them, notable exception a radio, to stop the plane that everyone knows takes off just fine…?
Mr. Ben Affleck, as the big play maker CIA escape artist, acts by not acting. His performance reminded me of Gary Oldman’s in Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. Both men stayed in the background and gave quite simple answers to anything directed towards them. I didn’t feel like he was channeling anxiety, or playing to the seriousness of the situation. He was just quiet.
The group of Americans in need of rescue are all just awful. Both in terms of their role in the story and their performance. The worst line of the film unquestioningly goes to Wife #3 who says “Joe… I’m scared”. YES DEAR. That is what the scene has been trying to convey. That has been your entire objective for the film. Was this the last kick upon that particular dead horse? One among them decides to play the most unlikeable person on Earth. It’s his job to cry and complain about everything that happens. Constantly threatening to go off by himself unless everyone plays the game he wants. So yes, of course he’s the one who surprisingly saves the team from their last hurdle. As for the rest… it was tough mustering my own concern for them as they ate lavish meals in a luxury home. Boredom was their greatest enemy. On that we can relate.