I was never a big fan of Ben Affleck when all he was doing was acting. Now that he’s added directing to his resume, and he’s onto directing his third feature film I’m left wondering “Why didn’t he try directing a feature film earlier in his career?”
Argo is based on a true story that was declassified in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was stormed by a mob of angry Iranians. This mob was demanding the return of the Shah, who had fled to the US after a revolution had taken place. The mob had taken all but six Americans hostage. These six Americans had managed to find sanctuary with the Canadian ambassador, and they needed someone to get them out. Enter Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA agent whose speciality was extraction. When Tony hears the disasterous plans that are being discussed to save the Americans holed up with the Canadian ambassador, he comes up with a better plan: sneak them out as a film crew making a movie.
I suppose that I should start with the fact that this is based on a true story, and that by the end of it you’ll be going “What the hell! I’d have probably had a heart attack from all the stress!”
The fact that Argo is based on events that actually occurred gives the audience immediate investment in the characters. Argo opens with a fair amount of footage from the actual events that took place in the storming of the American embassy in Iran, which emphasizes this aspect of the story. This is what all those “based on a true story” movies try to recreate, but usually fail miserably at.
Then there’s the tension. The tension is so thick in this movie, you would need a chainsaw or laser cutter to get through it! Two girls were talking as we were leaving the movie, and the one girl described the movie as so incredibly tense that she wanted to get up and leave at one point. While I wasn’t anywhere near that upset, it is an incredible movie experience in this regard.
In terms of the characters, we only get to see and know Ben Affleck’s character Tony really well. We see him engage with his son, and try to be a good dad even though his wife and him are taking time off. So naturally when he goes into Iran to try and get everyone home, the movie gets even more nerve wracking since we are invested so much in his character! The other characters from the embassy are all interesting, and we get glimpses into the way they think and act, but we don’t really get to connect with them as much as you’d expect. The audience no doubt goes “Oh geez, you guys are in the shit right now” but we don’t feel too much for them as individuals. Alan Arkin and John Goodman, as the director Lester Siegal and make-up artist John Chambers, provide some extremely necessary comedic relief, and some good performances. John Goodman seems to play the smart talking guy often enough that I wouldn’t expect anything less from him.
As expected from this kind of movie, it’s got some nice cinematography and uses sound quite effectively. There wasn’t really anything that stood out as amazing, but there wasn’t anything that was terrible either.
Movie Rating: Argo is a nerve-wracking thriller that is incredibly gripping. Some light comedy helps ease the tension at the start of the film, before it goes into major overdrive near the end as the characters try to make their escape. Go watch this movie now!