I wanted to catch Argo during its regular run but wasn’t able to due to a rather hectic schedule at the time, so now I’m thinking, better late than never. Now that Ben Affleck is getting accolades left and right because of the movie, I wanted more than ever to see what the hype was all about. I am happy to report that the film did not disappoint.
During the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 where over 50 officials and staff of the United Embassy was taken captive by militants who have taken over the embassy in retaliation for the US’s grant of asylum to its deposed shah, six American employees who were stationed in the old building were able to escape and seek refuge from the Canadian Ambassador’s home. However, as the months passed and hostility towards Americans increased, the Canadians have sought the US’s help in extracting the escapees as their prolonged stay imperils the ambassador. With little room to maneuver, the CIA, led by exfil specialist Tony Mendez decide to embark on a plan outrageous enough to catch Iranians off guard. The plan: for Mendez to enter the country disguised as a film producer scouting for a location and leave the country with the escapees posing as the crew.
Argo was quite different from The Town, another movie Ben Affleck directed and starred in. The Town bored me to death because of its seriousness but Argo had me at the edge of my seat from the first minute. The sense of danger was palpalable throughout the movie, and viewers can’t help but worry for the Americans. And because it was based on a true story, I could just imagine how scary the actual mission was. Affleck was able to capture this all on film, a great feat.
Argo was an ensemble movie. It did not intend for anybody to rise above the others. Instead, it banked on the strong performance of each member of the cast which complemented each other to make each scene more believable. However, I do believe that the Hollywood bunch (Alan Arkin and John Goodman) did provide the pizzazz that the film needed to make it balanced between serious and cocky. It brought the boldness of the film’s mission into perspective.
Kudos to Affleck and his team for their attention to detail. At the end of the movie, when the actors’ stills were placed side by side with the actual photos of the Embassy staff, as with the photos of the siege with the film’s images, I was blown away by the similarities.
All in all, Argo was a great movie because it was simply done but excellently executed. It told the story as it happened and brought to life one rather inspiring and amazing triumph of the CIA, an agency not usually feted for its accomplishments. A great quality movie. Awesome.