Time and again one sees a film being made within a film but more often than not such experiments are relegated to stories set within the film industry itself. However 'Argo' takes a different route as the setting of a film here is to bring in thrills instead of some light hearted entertainment or drama. It is basically a mission which a CIA specialist (Ben Affleck) embarks upon as he has a job in hand to rescue six staff members from the US embassy in Iran. Set in 1979, the film is narrated as a good old retro thriller and Affleck excels, both as a director and an actor.
Of course with a subject like this, the core requirement is to have a narrative which brings audience on the edge of the seat. This is something which is ensured right from start till the end of the film, what with the film managing to grip you with every passing sequence. Right from the time when the context of the film is established to Affleck arriving at his plan (which is the 'best bad plan' - in his own words) to the way he goes about taking his staff members through different stages of security, there is ample entertainment in the offering which makes 'Argo' a highly engaging watch.
However what adds edge to the film are smart one liners and some light hearted moments that are thrown in the middle portions. The way Affleck goes about setting a fake film (so as to gain an entry into Iran on the pretext of shooting and then presenting the staff members as a film unit) with a make-up artist (John Goodman) and a veteran film producer (Alan Arkin) is supremely done. The digs taken on Hollywood and it's many stars to the way negotiations take place on the table to ensuring that everything 'fake' about the film is actually told in a 'real' manner, 'Argo' scores in a big way.
Of course the best is reserved for the long drawn climax which is as tense as it gets, what with the Ianian officials at the airport coming face to face with the staff members. Extremely well edited while also lending some real nervous moments, the film also boasts of a convincing end sequence which ends up making you applaud the effort (both from the core story as well as the narrative perspective). Also, it is bound to bring a lump in your throat.
An ensemble affair, while Affleck is good without trying to be James Bond, Goodman and Arkin are quite impressive too. Also, amongst the staff members, Scoot McNairy (as the nervous man) comes on his own in an all important penultimate sequence.
A thriller that works without taking help from snazzy editing, camera angles, jump cuts, high octane action sequences and fancy looking control rooms - that's 'Argo' for you. This is a film that reaffirms once again that actor turned Ben Affleck is creating some good niche for himself as far as making realistic-n-entertaining thrillers is concerned. He nails it big time in 'Argo' which works without the usual dose of guns and racing cars and relies on human drama that manages to bring you on the edge of the seat.