Based on true events, “Argo” tells the story of a daring rescue attempt during the Iran hostage crises in 1979. When Islamic militants, unhappy with the United States harboring an Iranian criminal warlord, storm and seize control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, 52 American are taken hostage. Six managed to escape, fleeing the embassy during the siege and taking refuge at the Canadian Embassy under the protection of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor, played here by Victor Garber.
As he did in his last directorial effort, “The Town”, Affleck once again takes the lead here, playing Tony Mendez, an exfiltration specialist for the CIA. When the government needs someone extracted from a dangerous situation, he is the best in the business. The eyes of the world are on the hostage crises in Tehran and no matter what the brain trust in the CIA comes up with, no plan seems viable to get into Iran and extract the six who are hiding in the crawl space of the Canadian Embassy.
While chatting on the phone with his son and watching “Planet of the Apes”, Mendez gets an idea. He will lead a team into Tehran, posing as a Canadian film crew doing a location scout for a “Star Wars” inspired sci-fi movie. He will give the six Americans back-stories and together, posing as this fake film crew, they will simply walk out. Could it really be that easy? Is this really the best idea they can come up with? As it’s said in the film, unfortunately, it’s the best bad idea they’ve got and it may be the only chance to get these six people out of Tehran before the Iranians realize they are missing from the U.S. Embassy and take vengeance on the Canadians for harboring these fugitive Americans.
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Mendez first enlists a Hollywood special effects guy (John Goodman) and they recruit a washed up Hollywood director (Alan Arkin) to help put together the ultimate cover story. They find a script that has been stuck in development hell– “Argo” a science fiction adventure with locales that cater to the exotic locations readily available in Tehran. It’s never once easy for Mendez. Not only does he have to convince the United States Government this is a good idea but he then has to enter this country on his own, get to Ken Taylor’s home, convince the six Americans this insane idea is their only chance of survival, teach them to think and act like a film crew and then get them back through customs onto a plane and out of Iran.
The film is as incredibly ludicrous as it sounds and it’s awesome. Affleck is very quickly becoming one of the best directors in Hollywood today and “Argo” very well could help earn him his first Academy Award nomination as a director. The movie is tightly paced and peppered with moments of laugh out loud dark humor. Affleck weaves stock footage of the actual events and as well as actual news casts throughout to give it a very realistic feel that gives you front row seats to reliving this horrific ordeal. The script from Chris Terrio is both thrilling and gut-wrenchingly intense from start to finish.
The cast surrounding Affleck is amazing as well. Garber is wonderful and sincere as Ken Taylor, who risked not only his life but the life of his family, to keep these Americans safe and hidden in his home for months while the Americans fumbled for a way to get them out. Rounding out the cast and delivering very believable and emotional performances are Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Rory Cochrane, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishé and Christopher Denham as the six Americans who must put their lives into the hands of Mendez and his fake movie cover story.
“Argo” is by far one of the best moves of 2012 and is sure to be a front-runner for a number of Academy Awards once nominations are given out early in 2013. Credit Affleck for overcoming a slump of awful movies a few years back. The man has clearly found his footing both as a filmmaker and an actor.
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