Review No. 388
The Bottom Line: Argo watch it. Now.
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Chris Terrio
Based on: “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez; “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman
Tony Mendez: Ben Affleck
Jack O’Donnell: Bryan Cranston
Lester Siegel: Alan Arkin
John Chambers: John Goodman
Also Starring: Bob Gunton, Kyle Chandler, Michael Parks, Philip Baker Hall, Victor Garber
Distributed by Warner Bros. on October 12, 2012. Produced in English and Persian by the United States. Runs 120 minutes. Rated R by the MPAA for language and some violent images.
Argo was watched on January 12, 2013.
“What’s your middle name? What’s your middle name? What’s your middle name? Shoot him, he’s an American spy. Look, they’re going to try to break you, okay, by trying to get you agitated. You have to know your résumé back to front.” –Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez
On November 4th of 1979, members of Tehran’s American Embassy were held in captivity by Islamic students, who were promoting the Iranian Revolution at hand.
Fast-forward to January 28, 1980. The day stands an implausible benchmark in history, marking the successful liberation of six hostages. This was hidden behind a charade: the false production of a science fantasy film called Argo, a low-budget “Star Wars” ripoff from a Canadian film crew. The mission remained classified until 1997, when President Bill Clinton made the story known.
There’s much question as to how accurate last year’s dramatization actually is, but there’s no question it keeps the overwhelming sense of reality lingering, despite the extremely implausible subject matter.
Ben Affleck’s directorial style may not be entirely established yet. His behind-the-camera filmography consists of just three films, the other two being Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Not that that’s a bad thing. Argo gives its director an undeniable guise, as if he were a spectacular reincarnation of Alfred Hitchcock. Character development, cinematography, acting, and writing are all crucial in making this thriller terrifically exhilarating. History expresses the events’ conclusion in a straightforward manner, yet the concentration placed upon each and every happening puts excitement at its apex.
Furthermore, Affleck directs himself impressively. During the end credits, we are shown the likeness of the entire cast to those who were involved. In his appearance as Tony Mendez, the similarities don’t show quite as easily as anyone else billed; but on the other hand, it’s difficult to believe that this is the same Ben Affleck with seven Razzie nominations.
Argo is a monstrously entertaining masterpiece. It represents late 1979 / early 1980 in a highly accessible light, even for viewers who can’t personally recall the time; and while it strictly ratifies the violence in the plot, there isn’t much apparent fear in making light of how a faux film production made history. The two professionals who make the charade seem veritable are the comic reliefs. Their humorous quips are surprisingly necessary, even catalyzing a whole new level of reality from a frame of pure doubt.
Argo isn’t remarkable for its ability to simply entertain, and entertain alone. It’s how everything that makes it so enthralling, is also what establishes it as a rare marvel. Argo watch it as soon as the moment arrives.