Oct 22, 2012

Movie Review: Argo

It’s November 4, 1979. A large protesting group of Iranian students riot outside the American embassy in Tehran, Iran. American diplomats are struggling to erase all information in the building, breaking computers and incinerating any papers they can find. The large chain on the embassy’s gate - the only thing keeping the American diplomats and Iranian protesters apart - is broken. The mob of Iranian students flood the embassy and begin to take American diplomats as hostages. Six diplomats decided to run from the embassy and take refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. This is where the story of Argo begins.

Argo is an American thriller directed by Ben Affleck based around the real life events of the “Canadian Caper” and has a runtime of 120 minutes. The Canadian Caper was the joint covert rescue mission of the six American diplomats who evaded capture during the riot at the American embassy in Tehran by the United States C.I.A. and the Government of Canada. Instead of focussing on the diplomats though, Argo loosely follows C.I.A. agent, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), roughly three months after the diplomats escaped, and backtracks through his efforts to rescue them. During a meeting to decide what will be done about the diplomats, Tony gets the idea after watching the science-fiction movie Battle for the Planet of the Apes with his son, that the only way the diplomats can be rescued would be to disguise them and himself as a Canadian film crew scouting for “exotic” locations in Iran. As his idea is chosen as the best idea the C.I.A. can come up with, Tony begins working on the cover movie the film crew will be filming. He goes to Hollywood and seeks the help of John Chambers (John Goodman) and Lester Siegal (Alan Arkin) to get some content for the fake movie. Eventually, they stumble upon a script with the title of Argo and the base for the rescue mission is set. What follows is Tony’s flight to Tehran and the obstacles he and the six diplomats must face in order to make it home alive.

Although the story is apart of history and has been told before in the movie Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper (1981), Argo does a tremendous job of delivering the story to a modern audience. On several occasions I was unable to tell if parts of the movie were taken straight from the 1980 media because the whole movie had a grainy overtone. This led to making the more historical parts of the movie seem almost like scenes from a documentary, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One thing that might be surprising to most viewers is the lack of violence. I don’t mean to say that there is no violence in the movie, but compared to other movies based on covert missions in the Middle East, Argo has very little. Even though the story isn’t a violent one, I believe that the lack thereof really allowed the characters to shine and make this story all the more enjoyable.

Overall, this movie was the most entertaining movie I have seen this Fall. It had historical connections that made the movie feel completely real, and a stunning cast which just added to the immersion. So many things worked perfectly in this film ranging from the thrills that make up the majority of the movie, to the concern you feel for everyone involved in the rescue. If you have the money and are looking for a thrilling take on this historical story, I rank Argo a must-watch.

Overall rating...

4.5 / 5