Argo review: Ben Affleck"s hostage saga will keep you chained to your seat

Affleck's hostage saga will keep you chained to your seat

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UPDATED:

00:47 GMT, 9 November 2012

ARGO (15)

Verdict: Very entertaining thriller

As I first reported two weeks ago, this was the best film I saw during the London Film Festival: a triumphant combination of thrills and comedy. Ben Affleck’s movie tells an amazing but true story set against the context of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 1979 to January 1981, after a group of Islamist militants invaded the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Unknown to us all at the time, six Americans found sanctuary in the Canadian embassy.

A plot was hatched to smuggle them out of Iran, disguised as Canadian film-makers researching locations for a tacky rip-off of Star Wars — named Argo.

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Hatching a plan: Ben Affleck, left, and Bryan Cranston in the new film Argo based on a true story

Hatching a plan: Ben Affleck, left, and Bryan Cranston in the new film Argo based on a true story

The next Clint Eastwood: Affleck shows off his talent as an actor and director with Argo

The next Clint Eastwood: Affleck shows off his talent as an actor and director with Argo

It is a matter of some controversy
how much of the escape was planned by the Canadian ambassador (played in
the movie by Victor Garber) and how much was the brainchild of CIA
operative Tony Mendez (Affleck), but for cinematic purposes we see
events mainly through the eyes of the latter.

The story that unfolds is always
gripping and often funny, especially when a Hollywood producer (Alan
Arkin) and make-up artist (John Goodman) become involved and cast a
cynical eye over the scam.

In a way, the film is about the
technique of movie-making, the spinning of stories that will persuade
the audience they’re true.

Affleck hasn’t always tried very hard
as an actor, but with his third picture behind the camera he shows — as
he did with Gone Baby Gone and The Town — that he’s the most talented
actor-turned-director since Clint Eastwood.

Now watch the trailer

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