Argo

WRITTEN BY: Chris Terrio
DIRECTED BY: Ben Affleck
STARRING: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber
RATING: 4.5 stars

You know you've seen a good film when you immediately want to watch it again and spend the next two days thinking about it. That's what happened when I saw Argo, a film that is worthy of its Oscar hype and should take out a few awards. Director and star of the film Ben Affleck proved he was a serious film maker after the success of The Town in 2010 and has now given audiences an even more amazing film about a bizarre true story in which Hollywood helped the US and Canadian governments in a covert operation to rescue six Americans hiding out in Iran during violent, political turmoil. Argo will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.

Argo begins in
1979 at the height of the Iranian revolution when a mob storms the American embassy in Iran and takes 52 people hostage. Six of the American embassy staff manage to escape to the home of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber) in Tehran. CIA “exfiltration” specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) develops an unusual plan to free the six hideaways by flying into Iran and posing as the producer of a Hollywood science fiction film called Argo. He plans for the six consular staff to pose as his location scouting team and lead them out of Iran without being detected.

The film cleverly intertwines t
he drama of the political crisis in Iran in 1979-80 with the comedy of the ridiculousness of making a fake Hollywood film as a guise to get the CIA into Iran, and the suspense that goes with every obstacle Mendez has to overcome to see his “best bad idea” work. This is all thanks to the brilliant screenplay by Chris Terrio. In fact, what makes the film so powerful is that it doesn't feel like a typical “America saves the day” story that we so often see in Hollywood films. Every character is layered and complicated. Not all Iranians are bad and not all Americans are heroes. It makes the story unpredictable and exciting.

As a director, Affleck has done a great job of capturing the essence of the 70's by increasing the graininess of the imagery, which adds to the feel of the film. The costumes, make-up and hair are also very good. As an actor, Afleck is also believable in the role. In fact, all the performances in Argo were good. Alan Arkin and John Goodman provide fun laughs as the Hollywood guys tasked with making the fake film. They've got some great dialogue to work with and coin the phrase I hope everyone will use from now on: “Argo, fuck yourself”. Garber is sympathetic while Bryan Cranston gives a strong performance as Mendez's boss. The hostages including Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Christopher Denham and Clea DuVall are all convincing too. Stay for the end credits because you will see images of the real people next to images of the actors, as well as photographs of the real events to compare with how those moments were depicted on screen.

If you don't like this film, Argo fuck yourself!






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