To Go or Forgo Argo?

ARGO
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 120 mins
Common Sense Rating: 16+

“If I’m gonna make a fake movie, it’s going to be a fake hit.”
– Lester Siegel
(Alan Arkin)

Argo is loosely based on The Iranian Hostage Crisis which started November 4th 1979. Commenting on the news coverage that followed, Gaddis Smith stated that, “The crisis… had more extensive coverage on television and in the press than any other event since World War II.” After being mesmerized by the events that transpired from it, Ben Affleck creates Argo, a thriller in which he stars & directs.

When an Iranian mob overtakes the U.S. Embassy, 6 American workers escape. While the resistance groups are on the hunt for the escaped workers, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), an expert at getting people out of troublesome situations leads a rescue team, posing as a movie crew in an effort to rescue the Americans. The question of ‘Who will get to them first?” really makes this movie as one does not simply walk into Iran.

The acting in Argo was done well. While Ben Affleck played Tony Mendez well throughout the movie, the stronger performances came from Bryan Cranston as Jack O’Donnell, along with Alan Arkin as Lester Sigel, & John Goodman as John Chambers, bringing the comic relief. While I felt that there were a couple of flat moments, but the drama that occurs later more than make up for any minor mistakes this movie made.

“I think my little story is the only thing between you and a gun to your head.” -Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck)

As far as the facts go, there have been reports of the movie being historically inaccurate. According to an interview with the New York Times, former hostage Barry Rosen declared, “If people use this to understand the hostage crisis, then they know nothing about the hostage crisis.” (See Other Resources at the bottom for links to interesting articles.)

While the film’s historicity has been question, the unfolding of events is very intense & will keep you on the edge of your seat. This dramatization of the crisis makes the circumstances very real; a trait missing in certain movies today.

Original Argo Promotion circa 1979-1980
SOURCE: tumblr.com

I was also impressed as the costume & set designers were able to recreate the feel of the late 70’s. From the wardrobe to even the production slate, Argo is a window to what the 70’s transitioning to the 80’s. Make sure to stay shortly after the credits to see the detail that went into recreating the scene to appear as the real events.

While others claim that there are claims of historical inaccuracies in Argo, I’m making my judgment on the art & entertainment value of the movie. I found none of the errors so jarring that could ruin the movie. (Can’t say the same about Total Recall but that’s another story.)

Throughout the movie, there are few intense moments & plenty of spicy language to go around. As a movie, Argo is right on target. Very often, people & fans use the phrase “thrill ride” to critique how good something is. Argo impressed me so much that it had me reevaluate how I was using the term. With talented actors bringing these events to the big screen, Argo is easily one of the great suspense films of this year. A-

 

Other Resources:

‘Argo,’ as Seen by the Iran Hostage Crisis Survivors – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/movies/argo-as-seen-by-the-iran-hostage-crisis-survivors.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1353096499-hQEH+l7RAXn5d44V6janYg

Not Just a Film: Ben Affleck on Terror, Iran and the Risk of Making ‘Argo’- http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/argo-ben-affleck-iran-hostage-movie-middle-east-378568

Movie Based on 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis Departs From Facts With Good Effect, Says Expert – http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/10/19/movie-based-on-1979-iran-hostage-crisis-departs-fom-facts-with-good-effect-says-expert/

The Real Story of the Fake Movie in ‘Argo’ – http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20639826,00.html

 

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3 responses to “To Go or Forgo Argo?

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