Ben Affleck has officially begun production on his third directorial effort, according to a Warner Bros. press release, and considering how solid his first two films ended up being, this is actually cause for celebration.

Set in 1979, Argo will take Affleck out of his comfort zone of blue-collar Boston crime. He’ll tell a based-on-bizarre-facts story of CIA operatives pretending to be a science-fiction film crew in order to assist U.S. citizens trying to escape an American embassy during the Iranian revolution. The incredible rescue mission was documented in a 2007 Wired magazine article. Screenwriter Chris Terrio (Heights) is turning the story into a shootable script.

So far, Affleck’s films have been characterized by their dark tones and his spectacular casting decisions. By calling in favors and leaning on friends, Affleck was able to lure actors like Morgan Freeman, Chris Cooper, the late Pete Postlewaith, Jon Hamm and Michelle Monaghan to his productions. Affleck guided Jeremy Renner to a Supporting Actor nomination for The Town, and Amy Ryan to a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Gone Baby Gone. (The fact that she lost is a crime.)

Argo stacks its deck with solid actors also. Affleck has cast himself in the lead role of Tony Mendez, the CIA operative who comes up with the idea of faking the film crew. He’ll be surrounded by Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina and the great Michael Parks.

Affleck has earned my trust with Gone Baby Gone and The Town. I’m actually excited to see what he can do outside of Bah-ston, though his knack for compelling storytelling should follow him no matter where his narrative leads. Argo has begun filming in Los Angeles and it's expected to move to Washington, D.C. and Istanbul. Though there's no official release date, Warner Bros. wants to have it in theaters at some point next year.

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