Posts Tagged ‘argo’

Movie Review: Argo (2012)

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Drama
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argo

On November 4, 1979, Iranian students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.  A little known addendum to the hostage crisis was that 6 Americans escaped to Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor’s (Victor Garber) house.  The CIA has been tasked with coming up with a plan to rescue the Americans before the Iranian government finds out that the Americans are missing.  One plan calls for the Americans to ride bikes 300 miles to their freedom in Turkey.  CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) has a better idea.  He wants to make a fake movie, and have the 6 hostages pretend to work on the movie.  Mendez calls Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) who’s worked with the CIA before on different disguises.  CIA Agent Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) gives the fake movie idea the green light, and Mendez contacts Chambers to find a producer to front for this fake film.

Chambers finds Lester Siegel, (Alan Arkin) who buys the script for Argo, a low budget sci-fi movie set in the desert.  Siegel also gets some Hollywood stars to do a reading for the fake movie, which gets press coverage from Variety, so they can sell the idea that this is a real movie to the Iranians.  Incredibly, Mendez makes it into Iran, and tells the six hostages their new identities.  Only Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy) seems skeptical about the plan’s success.  But there is no other option, they have to go ahead with the plan or face certain death at the hands of the Iranians.  Already the Iranian housekeeper at the Canadian Ambassador’s house, Sahar (Shella Vand) is getting suspicious.  Suddenly Jack O’Donnell calls Mendez and says the operation is being pulled, there is going to be an air rescue attempted for the 53 hostages and that will take priority.  What does Mendez do?  Do the Iranians find out about the six missing hostages and try to capture them?

This is a riveting thriller, which keeps the viewer firmly planted on the edge of their seat from beginning to end.  The fact that there is so little known about this story is what makes it all the more exciting.  I really didn’t know how the story would end, I suspected, but I didn’t know.  There are little Hollywood flourishes to make the ending more exciting, and several composite characters, but that didn’t matter to me.  The acting is great.  Goodman is superb as always, as John Chambers, he plays Chambers as an easygoing Hollywood insider, his acting is so fluid, so natural, I’ve never seen him overact or chew scenery.  Alan Arkin is the same way, smooth, natural acting, just doing what the role calls for.  Goodman and Arkin made the movie funnier than a hostage crisis movie should have been. Bryan Cranston is also terrific as Jack O’Donnell, he gives a powerful, gritty performance. There’s a bit of a controversy about the Academy not nominating Affleck for best Director.  I frankly don’t see what all the fuss is about.  This wasn’t a visually striking movie, other than a few handheld fuzzy shots, there wasn’t much Affleck did on that front.  And Affleck hardly needs to tell veterans like Goodman, Arkin, and Cranston how to play their scenes, so he didn’t have to do much there.  I think Spielberg will win best director and should win.  Having said that, I think Argo should won best picture, it is better than Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.

Argo.  Go see it, yourself.