Thursday, October 18, 2012
I haven’t seen TAKEN 2 but I admit I want to. For all the right and wrong reasons I enjoyed TAKEN. Knowing Hollywood, there will be a TAKEN 6 where his pool boy is kidnapped.
The other boxoffice behemoth was ARGO, the new movie directed by Ben Affleck and written by Chris Terrio from an article by Joshuah Bearman. (I thought I would be novel in my review and actually mention the writers.) That movie I did go to see.
And I loved it.
It’s easy sport to make fun of Ben Affleck. When you’ve done PEARL HARBOR, GIGLI, and JERSEY GIRL you’re certainly leading with your chin. But he also did CHASING AMY and lately has proven himself to be quite an accomplished director. (Is the saying “Those that can’t act, direct” or “Those that can’t act, act in Michael Bay films”?) In any event, the saying doesn’t apply to Ben for CHASING AMY alone. And in this film he turns in a nice performance. What I like is that he underplays here. It would have been very easy to chew up the scenery, but Affleck opted for restraint. Good call, Mr. Director.
There may even be Oscar talk for this film, although the fact that it’s entertaining, doesn’t play exclusively in art houses, and doesn’t star Kate Winslet might work against it.
And for all its suspense, there are more genuine laughs in ARGO than the last four Adam Sandler comedies combined – maybe the last six. Alan Arkin and John Goodman pretty much steal the movie. Again, kudos to the director for allowing them that spotlight.
You probably know the story. (Don’t worry – no SPOILER ALERT necessary). Based on a true event, in order to get six American hostages out of volatile Iran in 1979 the CIA concocted a phony movie with the plan to smuggle them out as crew members. To accomplish this harebrain scheme, an actual Hollywood producer was enlisted, there were ads and articles in Variety (the trade paper of choice among terrorists), storyboards were drawn, offices set up, casting sessions, the whole works. This was the kind of project my agent always tried to get me hooked up with.
Some critics have taken issue with the creative license Affleck took in the third act. He apparently fabricated some hurdles and tension. But so what? The last act was gripping. To use the old movie tagline: “You’ll pay for the whole seat but only use the edge.”
For a good yarn, go see ARGO. And judging by the first weekend’s receipts, in a couple of years go see ARGO 2 where Ben rounds up the film company gang again to get Liam Neeson’s niece out of Turkey.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM