Can Ben Affleck go three for three? The actor-turned-director, who earned positive notices for helming Gone Baby Gone and The Town, is back behind the camera for his third directorial effort, the upcoming period thriller Argo. The trailer for the film, which hits theaters October 12, was just released (watch it below), and clearly, this is Affleck's "most ambitious movie yet," says Jen Yamato at Movieline. Adapted from a 2007 Wired article, Argo tells the crazy-but-true story of the CIA's attempt to rescue six American diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis by inventing a fake science-fiction movie and disguising the hostages as part of its film crew. Affleck also stars, alongside Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin. Can Affleck the director make this tricky film a success?
The trailer bodes well: This project couldn't be more complicated, says Kevin Jagernauth at Indie Wire. First, there's the difficult movie-about-making-a-movie element. Then there's the potpourri of genres at play: Argo is "part period drama, part thriller, part comedy." But to his credit, Affleck seems to avoid the temptation to play the wild tale for pure laughs, striking the "right balance between how surreal and very dangerous the operation is." Backed by a wickedly talented cast, "it looks like another winner from Affleck."
"Watch: Trailer for Ben Affleck's '70s set thriller Argo"
But this is new territory for Affleck: Gone Baby Gone was a "lean and smart crime thriller," while The Town showed off an even stronger, more distinctive style, says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. But both films had similar subject matter — Boston criminals — and Argo is "about as far away as you can imagine" from that comfort zone. The trailer previews a "pretty sharp tonal shift," from intense Iranian Revolution action to sunshine and sarcasm in Hollywood. We haven't seen Affleck tackle something like that yet.
"First trailer for Ben Affleck's Argo: Dream On"
Argo will be solid but flawed — just like Affleck's other films: Let's not go crazy over Ben, says Forrest Wickman at Slate. Neither Gone Baby Gone nor The Town was a masterpiece. They were "solid genre pictures infused with wit, moral complexity, and a sense of place" — but hardly perfect. Argo seems like a film of similar quality. The trailer is stylishly edited, previewing a combo of "a period drama and a sort of Ocean's Eleven-style caper." Well-chosen '70s funk music underlines that vibe, until Affleck tellingly compromises things with Aerosmith's "Dream On." Overall, this looks like a solid B+ film, and nothing more.
"Trailer critic: Ben Affleck's Argo"