<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ben Affleck. Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Clea DuVall, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kyle Chandler, Richard Kind, Kerry Bishé, Taylor Schilling.
What a long, long way this man has come. From so-so actor who everyone thought was just a pretty face to big time director who can go shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of George Clooney (who has co-produced this film with Affleck), Ben Affleck may just be nominated at the Oscars next year for Argo.
Based on a true story about a covert CIA rescue mission in the 80s, which was only declassified during President Bill Clinton’s term in office, Argo is such an entertainingly wonderful movie, you wouldn’t imagine that a CIA operation would be so colourful and you’ll probably see them in a different light (well at least how they were then).
An uprising and change of regimes in Iran in the late 70s leads to turmoil and demonstrations against the United States of America (as usual) and the US Embassy in Iran is attacked, with most of its staffers taken hostage. Only six (played by Scoot McNairy, Tate Donovan, Kerry Bishe, Clea DuVall, Rory Cochrane and Christopher Denham) of them manage to get out and seek refuge with the Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber) and his wife at their residence. If they were found out, they would be caught as spies and executed. So the CIA special ops boss (Bryan Cranston) must find a way to ‘exfiltrate’ them.
Now let me just say that this film isn’t as accurate as the real story. Ben boy has taken cinematic liberties. In the real life events, the Canadians played a much greater part in the rescue mission. Of course for the film the Americans and in particular special ops agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) and Hollywood are the real heroes. Read more on the movie v/s what really happened here: http://screenrant.com/argo-movie-facts-fiction-true-story-differences/
So the plan (‘the best of the bad ideas’) is this: get into Iran in the guise of a film production unit for a sci-fi film called Argo, create fake identities for the six who are supposed to be part of the unit and act like they’re making a science fiction movie and are scouting locations and the next day get the hell out of there. And yes this was signed off by then President Jimmy Carter. You’ve gotta love America.
Argo is shot so brilliantly and realistically that you are transported back not only to the time period in which the film is set but also to the time period when films were made differently and looked different. At the start of the film you see the old Warner Bros. logo for instance and the movie is shot to look like you’re watching a VHS tape: grainy and flat colours. It all adds to the feel of the film and the time period. And I love that time period.
A once-big-time-producer called Lester Siegel (fictional) played by Alan Arkin and award winning make-up artist John Chambers (real) played by John Goodman are recruited to make the whole plan credible. Arkin and Goodman are absolutely hilarious and completely perfect in their roles. If you don’t think so, “Ar-go fuck yourself”! You’ll get it when you watch the film.
Argo is a film that merges reality and fiction seamlessly and with much intelligence. The script by Chris Terrio (based on an article by Joshuah Bearman called ‘Escape from Tehran’) is exquisite. The direction by Ben Affleck is crisp, slick and effective. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a really good film come out of Hollywood and Argo has broken the dry spell for sure. Affleck may just be up for Oscar for Best Director (as an actor in the film, maybe) and he deserves it. Ar-go watch the film.
Watch the Argo – “Based on a True Story” Featurette: