Already surrounded by Oscar buzz, "Argo" is Ben Affleck's latest offering both behind and in front of the camera.
This powerful story focuses on a plan so bizarre, it would only ever happen in a movie. But wait. That’s not entirely true. While it is obviously partly magnified for entertainment purposes, "Argo" is actually based on a true story.
"Argo" loosely chronicles the historical account of former Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film stars Affleck as Tony Mendez with Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, and received critical and commercial success when it was recently released in North America. Surrounded by Hollywood heavyweights, the film was also co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, the duo who were previously responsible for the critically acclaimed Good Night, and Good Luck.
"Argo" starts on November 4, 1979, when the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point. The U.S. embassy in Tehran is stormed by Iranian militants, who were angrily reacting to America's protection of the deposed Shah. They take 52 Americans hostage but they miss a few. Amidst all 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 they're found out and undoubtedly killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. It was a plan so incredible, you would think that it could only happen in the movies, but this is actually based on facts! This powerful life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis -the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.
So CIA extractor Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a scheme revolved around a fake movie called "Argo". The director supposedly requires arid backdrops for its Star Wars-like story. This is also supposed to serve as a cover for the escaping hostages, who’ll pretend they’re part of the movie’s crew coming to scout for locations. So this is where Hollywood steps in, in the form of make-up artist John Chambers – (John Goodman) – and producer Lester Siegel – (Alan Arkin). Hollywood's fantasy world crashes into Iran's harsh wall of reality when Tony arrives with false identities and passports for the six.
This is a outstanding effort from Affleck who seems to direct himself as an actor better than many others. The fact that the film is based on classified material cleared in 1997, makes the impossibility of the whole thing even more enticing!
Affleck receives brilliant support in the forms of both John Goodman, as savvy Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers, a specialist in prosthetics, and from Alan Arkin, as the cynical producer of the fake film. (There is already talk that Arkin’s performance as Lester Siegel will earn him an Oscar nomination in the supporting actor category.) Another stand-out performance belongs to Bryan Cranston. He plays Jack O'Donnell, Mendez’s boss at the CIA, a Washington-based agent who fights his way through many obstructions to provide Mendez with the back-up he needs to make his crazy plan work.
I think this is a really well made thriller. Continuously I am hearing that Ben Affleck is proving himself to be an excellent director. This is being shown by every one of the films he has directed and "Argo" is no exception as it delivers on every level. It's exciting, it's funny, it's suspenseful. The ending is nail-biting. Definitely one to see this season!
4.5/5 Stars, Brilliant!
You'll enjoy this if you liked "Catch Me If You Can" (2012), "The Men Who Stare At Goats"(2009) or "The Town"(2010).