Argo (2012)

Make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman), producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) celebrate their fictional film being commissioned.

“Ar go fuck yourself!” a phrase that gets used a lot in this film, so much so that you wonder if the whole reason they used the name Argo was just so they could keep using this pun. This is a good movie though, set during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and based on a true story. Ben Affleck (also the director of the film) plays Tony Mendez, a CIA agent who is sent undercover to Iran to rescue 6 American hostages who have been hiding out in the Canadian Embassy. What’s remarkable is the way he is planning to get them out – using a fictional Canadian film shoot for a science-fiction movie called Argo as cover for the operation. The hostages are to become part of the film crew who are scouting Iran for shooting locations for the film. Why is it called Argo? I don’t know, go fuck yourself! Wait… that wasn’t right…

It’s impressive in many ways – the authentic 70s setting, complete with bushy hairstyles and facial hair, boxy angular cars and even the old run-down Hollywood sign. It even feels like a classic 70s thriller relying more on drama than action to thrill you. The story is well told and tension is skilfully created and built upon. You really get a sense of how dangerous it is to be American and in Iran at this time, even Iranians with tenuous American links are regularly hung from construction cranes. It is made very clear that any minor detail of the operation which they get wrong would almost certainly result in the loss of all their lives.

There’s very little to criticize here and and it’s nice to see some humour creeping in with the tacky sci-fi epic Argo needing to be promoted in Hollywood just as if it was a real film. Impressive though all of this is, at the end of the film you do feel that this is just a story well told. Nothing more. It’s really a good 70s film transported to 2012. Improvements? Without taking major liberties with the story it’s hard to say. However maybe the background of Hawkins and the characters could have been fleshed out a little more and by doing so there would have been extra opportunities to create drama and also to provide some more emotional scenes with Hawkins himself. A good film though. 7/10

  1. richmov said:

    Thank you, yes it’s good but not as good as all the awards would have you believe.

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