Argo (2012)

argo poster 2012 movie ben affleck
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Interesting story, fun caper movie

Takes some liberties with history to make the story more interesting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Argo

Studio:  GK Films

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  August 31, 2012 (Telluride)/October 12, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

argo tony mendez ben affleck bryan cranston

I just have to say that the situation is breaking bad

In 1979, the American Embassy in Iran is raided by protestors demanding the return of the Shah for trial.  Six Americans escape into the streets of Tehran and find shelter with the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber).  As tension grows high over the hostage situation at the embassy, the United States struggles to find a way to get the six Americans out of Iran without alerting the authorities to their presence.  Enter C.I.A. agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) who specializes in extractions.  The goal is to convince the Iran officials that he is Canadian and on a scouting mission for a new film called Argo while simultaneously smuggling the Americans out of the country.  He’s got the help of Hollywood in producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and effects expert John Chambers (John Goodman) but is finding resistance from his bosses in the government.  Can Mendez pull off the scam and save the Americans?

argo sci-fi movie poster

The poster actually kind of makes me want to see Argo

Directed by Ben Affleck, Argo is a dramatic political historic movie.  Released at Telluride Film Festival, the movie was widely hailed by critics and audiences.  It received was won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Arkin), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Original Score.  The omission of Ben Affleck for Best Director was seen as a slight by many in the film community.

I enjoyed Argo much more than I thought I would.  The movie is a caper movie (like The Thomas Crown Affair, The Sting, or Ocean’s Eleven), but made more interesting in that this absurd plan was real and cooked up by the government.  There is something about movies and Hollywood that makes people believe anything is possible…and this is a fact recognized by the characters in the film.  It is too crazy to be true, and that is why the events worked in the movie.

argo grand bazaar tony mendez ben affleck

Just blend in…blend in

I am not a member of the Ben Affleck fan club.  As an actor, he’s average or ok and despite receiving raves for The Town (2010) and Gone Baby Gone (2007), I didn’t find them very good.  I do, however, think he was left out of the director’s race.  With nine Best Picture nominations and five Best Director spots someone is going to be left out.  I think the only reason Spielberg got nominated for Lincoln is that he’s Spielberg.  Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance was going to be great regardless of the director, and I feel that the picture didn’t look or do anything very revolutionary and spectacular.  Affleck, I believe, didn’t get nominated because he’s Ben Affleck.  There were other directors who got left behind this year, but I think this one was a problematic one.

argo canadian embassy us refugees

“I don’t know if I want to be associated with this sci-fi movie…I don’t understand the characters motivations…”

Knowing that the film was based on a true story while watching Argo, I did find myself mentally fact checking things that I quickly went home and checked out the truth.  As expected, a lot of the story was fictionalized.  The trip to the Grand Bazaar, Lester Siegel, the emergency escape, and the threats of the mission being cancelled by the U.S. were all fabricated for the movie.  Instead, as real life people from the film indicated, it was very organized, not as stressful and went off without a hitch.  The unfortunate aspect of “faking” history is that people will believe Argo is how it really went down.  The Canadians who helped the American have already voiced some objections to their actions being slighted by story and the British and the New Zealand representatives also did not like being pointed out for “not helping” when in fact they also helped.  Some also objected to Affleck portraying Mendez, a Mexican-American, and not casting a Hispanic actor for the role.

This stuff can hurt a film, but it is a fiction telling of the story.  I still found the film enjoyable and it looked and sounded great.  The story is a tense thriller, and it is always impressive when a story that people know the end results of is still suspenseful (plus the addition of real live footage at the end of the film was a nice touch).  Argo has a flow that keeps you interested and unlike many of these style films, it keeps it at two hours.  Check out Argo…it is a fun movie with a nice rush.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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