Argo, based on a real story, is set in 1979 Iran, after the Islamic revolution at the heart of the American hostage crisis of the Carter era. 6 Americans were able to escape the confines of the embassy as it was overtaken, seeking shelter with the Canadian ambassador who harbors them as they wait inside the four walls of his house for salvation and for a rescue that never seems to come.
69 days after the American embassy in Iran events, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA agent, is called in to a secret meeting to discuss possible rescue scenarios for those 6 Americans who are at the most immediate danger with them being as exposed as they are. Mendez comes up with the ingenious idea of orchestrating a fake movie, with the help of John Chambers (John Goodman), a Hollywood make-up artist, who brings a producer to the team in order to get the plan going. And Argo is set in motion.
One of the most intense thrillers you will watch, Argo keeps you glued to your seat for the entirety of its two hour run. The intermingling of historical footage with the movie’s lead-in scenes immediately draw you in. The movie has a dark tone throughout, one that doesn’t let down – even with the many comic moments that are there to lighten the mood in stark contrast to the overall grim setting of the time during which the events take place.
Ben Affleck delivers his best movie yet as a director and with a list of movies that have all been well-done, his talent as a filmmaker is beginning to surpass that of him as an actor even though he also delivers a decent performance here. The comic relief I mentioned earlier is provided by good old John Goodman and Alan Arkin as a couple of movie-makers who are quirky and fun. The trio, Affleck included, also deliver subtle criticism at a movie industry which chases blockbuster flicks and leaves those which advance the art of filmmaking behind.
Argo brings life to a Tehran ravaged by the revolution of the 1970s. It showcases the morbid atmosphere, the oppression and the desperation present everywhere in Iran at the time. It gets your feelings regarding the country, whether positive or negative, to the surface. It doesn’t shy away from historical accuracy, even if it involves showcasing American shortcomings. It doesn’t shy away from showing all the help that America’s neighbors to the North provided, proving insurmountable to the rescue efforts. And as one of its final scenes, involving an airport, sets in, you are so taken in you can barely breathe. You feel for the characters on screen. You may already know the resolution but you can’t not be afraid for them. And if you’re not, then the only thing I have to say to you is: Argo!@#$ yourself.