For its first two-thirds, Argo fulfilled the praise it received. It was both painful and funny, contrasting scenes of the Iranian Hostage crisis with parody of Hollywood’s shallowness. Then it went into suspense mode.

Director Ben Affleck used all the usual tricks of the trade (a ticking clock, cross cutting images of the pursuers and the pursed, and a silly chase sequence involving an airplane) to pump up the drama. Unfortunately, in doing so he missed the real drama. The climactic scene would have been far more tense if they’d stayed with the Americans as they’re making their way through the Tehran airport.

It’s a good lesson to writers: trust the characters and the situation to convey tension. Avoid cheap tricks.