Despite the obvious whitewashing by its self-indulgent director, Argo is an exciting, detailed, and well executed political thriller mixed with Hollywood satire.
Based on true events, Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis-the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies. — (C) Warner Bros.
Argo has a very detailed production, capturing the political and historical atmosphere of its time period. From the shots in Iran, to the confines of the CIA and Hollywood, the whole look and feel immerses the audience in the 70’s and brings out the tension and humor in the story.
The film compares the ruses run by CIA to the smoke and mirrors of Hollywood, which is funny and entertaining. Tony Mendez (Affleck) enlists a producer and makeup pioneer to create a fake movie to turn six ordinary unlucky folks into a film crew scouting for a location.
The editing and pacing of the movie is superb, creating a completely tense and edge of your seat final act (although the ending feels contrived). The film cuts back and forth between the Iranians who are slowly catching up the ruse, to the CIA pushing a last minute “Hollywood Option”, and to Mendez and the survivors as they make an escape that is so ludicrous it can only happen in the movies.
The whole cast delivers and adds to the overall effect of the movie. Alan Arkin provides the best catchphrases in the film.
Having Ben Affleck as the lead though, puts a kink in the enjoyable film. His steely understated resolve isn’t as potent as it should be. Then there’s the obvious whitewashing of the lead role. Hollywood has done this many times but with a good film such as this, you’d think Affleck could’ve given credit to where it is due and hired a Latino.
Miscasting aside, Argo is an entertaining and well crafted film that also has something to say.
My Rating: 8/10
Alternative Movie Poster by Kilian Eng