This weekend’s biggest premiere—unless you’re somehow super jazzed about seeing “Here Comes the Boom” or “Sinister”—is “Argo,” a stylized spy thriller starring--and directed by--Ben Affleck who, if you’ve seen “The Town” or “Gone Baby Gone”, you know is no slouch behind the camera.
The premise of “Argo”—which is based on a true story-- is this: The CIA, along with Hollywood producers, creates the façade of a science fiction film shoot to enter Iran during the 1979 revolution there and rescue trapped diplomats.
The challenge of producing a spy or international intrigue film is creating smart dialogue and cohesive plotlines while not getting carried away with superfluous gunfights, car chases, and ridiculous gadgets. The Bond series is great, but you won’t hear it being praised too often as the most thoughtful and intelligent iteration of the spy genre.
On the other hand, we don’t want writers and directors talking down at us and producing movies only understood by MENSA members, i.e., movies like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” or “Syriana,” where audiences practically need notepads and pause buttons just to figure out who’s who and what’s going on.
That’s where movies like “Argo” come in (or so we hope). It’s like having our cake and eating it. We get the developed plotlines so we don’t feel like 12-year-olds, and then we get a shoot-em-up scene so we can feel like 12-year-olds again.