About The Movie:
The tale is a true one this time around, transporting us back to the eerily-familiar era of the late 1970s/early 1980s, when Iran was in the midst of a tumultuous revolution. The Shah (King) had been ousted from power and took refuge in America; under the leadership of religious cleric Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian revolutionaries protested the Shah’s escape by storming the U.S. Embassy in Iran, taking fifty-two American citizens hostage.
However, six Americans escaped the embassy siege and found refuge with a Canadian diplomat. With their identities slowly but surely being pieced together by the revolutionary guard, “The Six” had one hope: CIA exfil (exfiltration) wiz Tony Mendez (Affleck). Tony’s big idea? Create a fake Canadian sci-fi film scouting locations in Tehran, Iran, and sneak The Six out in plain sight. But as usual, the plan doesn’t go quite as smoothly as Mendez had hoped.
What Is Good/Bad About The Movie:
Affleck takes this screenplay and turns his gifts as a director on this so-strange-it-has-to-be-true story. What those gifts put into the film is a look and feel of the time in which it takes place, Affleck bringing the period to life with much more than just haircuts and classic cars. Even the opening Warner Brothers logo has gone '70s retro and little pops and scratches, what some would call the "Grindhouse Effect", give Argo the impression of being a film from the time.
But more so than simply capturing a time and place on film, Affleck and Terrio craft and tell a story here that is every bit as suspenseful as it is engaging. He cuts back and forth between Mendez trying to get the CIA to back his plan and the embassy workers hiding in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Recreating the streets of Iran during the time with an air of tension that couldn't be wound tighter, the film offers plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments even if you're aware of how the real events turned out.
Hollywood likes to make fun of Hollywood. Well, Hollywood just likes talking about Hollywood whether it's good or bad, but the fact that Argo is littered with nearly obnoxious quips and punny sayings about the way the film industry works keeps it from being a truly great movie. It's not misdirected or even misguided. John Goodman as an old friend of Mendez's and Hollywood effects artist or Alan Arkin - Great as he may be here - as an aged and cynical producer show up. Their little catchphrase of "Argo Fuck Yourself" is cute the first time, not so much the third or fourth time it gets shoehorned in here. Fortunately, the Hollywood angle plays less of an importance than anticipated, as Affleck seems to know the story works exponentially better as a very serious procedural than it does a satire on the indulgence and ridiculousness of the film industry.
The rest of the cast does wonderful work, Bryan Cranston and Scoot McNairy standing out as Mendez's CIA supervisor and one of the embassy workers, respectively. There are dozens of characters to keep track of in Argo, and Affleck's work as a director and the incredible work from his cast makes each character worthwhile, which makes the drama all the more heightened.
For fans of the thriller genre (political or not) Argo is a must-see, and is an all-around quality time at the movies for the mature crowd. The film fulfills its promise of being worthwhile genre entertainment (no more, no less), and gets boosted by a good cast, good script, and the luck of timing.
Would it be as captivating and nerve-wracking to watch if we didn’t live in a time where American embassies are once again under attack? Or a time in which we’ve witnessed real extremists executing people in Web videos? Probably not. But this is the time we live in, and by simply holding up this example, Affleck successfully uses history to tap into very real fears (both personal and political) about what may come tomorrow.