Starring Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin and John Goodman
Directed by Ben Affleck (The Town)
Rated R for language and some violent images
Based on a recently declassified true story, Argo tells the tale of a heroic CIA agent named Tony Mendez (Affleck) who goes undercover as a Canadian filmmaker pretending to make a B-movie named Argo in Iran in order to attempt to rescue six Americans hiding out at the Canadian ambassador’s home during the Iran hostage crisis.
This film is good for many reasons, but one thing makes it stand out: tension. This film is the very essence of intensity. From the beginning of the movie where the Iranians rush the embassy, to the final moments of the film, there is an ominous and urgent feeling that something any second could go wrong and ruin everything. In screenwriting you are taught to build conflict into every scene, but here the screenwriter, Chris Terrio, takes that concept to an extreme with the help of the masterful direction of Affleck. For example, Agent Mendez has to take the six Americans, disguised as Canadian filmmakers, into a crowded market and have them pretend to be scouting out the area for the film they are supposed to be making. Already nervous from being out in the open for the first time, the audience would have been scared enough if nothing had happened and they had merely just walked through, but first they are asked difficult questions which could give away their true identities and then an Iranian man begins yelling at them and making a fuss for taking a Polaroid of his shop. And when you compound that with such high stakes and dramatic music, its a wonder you still have fingernails after the movie.
With a film such as this it helps to have the perfect cast, and indeed it does. It’s uncanny how much the actual actors resemble the real-life people they are playing. Fortunately, they aren’t just a cast of doppelgängers, but rather an extremely talented ensemble turning in great performances.
While they never could have or would have used the recent tragedy in Benghazi for promotion, there will naturally be more interest in the film due to these events. One thing I think the film does admirably is to point out the good and the evil as well as the misunderstood in ours and other cultures. In an attempt to make an entertaining historical drama, the filmmakers have created a relevant and meaningful experience for its audience. A-