ARGO (2012, Ben Affleck): 8/10
About as ruthlessly efficient a plot machine as I’ve seen in a while. Affleck keeps this thing lean and briskly paced — it doesn’t lag and it doesn’t dwell. The drawbacks to this method are that characterization is sacrificed across the board (though in some cases that’s a good thing — we don’t need to see yet another domestic argument between a spy and his wife over how much he works, how he’s not home enough, how he’s not there for the kid, etc.; just a single shot of an unanswered phone tells us everything) and the themes are a bit underdeveloped — this is a fairly shallow movie given the subject matter. But the benefits are that these two hours pass in what seems like 45 minutes thanks to keenly placed plants-and-payoffs, and terrific supporting turns by the likes of Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler, and John Goodman. This is Affleck’s best film to date: astute period detail, gorgeous Rodrigo Prieto photography (what else is new for the genius behind the camera for 25th HOUR and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN), and above all else — it’s damn entertaining.