Friday, October 12, 2012
Argo is one of the best movies of the year thus far, which isn't surprising when you consider its cast and crew. Ben Affleck plays the lead role and directs, and George Clooney helped produce the film. John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, and the escaped U.S. embassy employees in Iran all deliver great performances as well, and the movie showcases a turbulent time in U.S.-Iran relations that many people may not know much about.
The movie starts out giving us a basic rundown of the crisis up to that point, for the uninitiated. It's the late 1970s and Iranians are storming the U.S. embassy, because their Shah (former leader) has been allowed to enter the U.S. for medical treatment, and the Iranians are very anti-American by this point. The doors are finally kicked in, and 52 of the employees there are taken hostage; 6 of them, however, escape out the back door. The six go from embassy to embassy, but the only one that will take them in are the Canadians: Ken Taylor (Garber) and his wife. Iran is becoming more and more turbulent, and the CIA must come up with a plan to get the six employees out of Iran and back to the United States, before they are found and tried as spies (and then most likely executed). Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a detail-oriented back story: he and the employees are a Canadian film crew, filming an exotic movie named Argo, and they are in Iran to scout locations. A script is found, a production office put together (headed up by Arkin and Goodman's characters), and a blurb is published in a trade magazine about the movie. Mendez must get into Iran, teach the six employees their cover stories and fake identities, and hopefully return to the U.S. with the six, unharmed.
I had learned about the Iran hostage crisis in school, but it was quite another thing to see "footage" of it on the big screen. The movie seemed to have real footage interspersed with its own scenes, which lent it more authenticity, and also made it very interesting. The film opens with a bang, as we see Iranians rioting outside the U.S. embassy, and finally see them take control over it. The ending of the movie, as well, was very tense, and although you can probably guess the ending, Affleck makes it that everything is up in the air until the last few seconds; you find yourself white-knuckled, hoping that the embassy staff and Affleck's character are able to get out of Iran.
Yes, definitely see this movie. I would not be surprised to see Affleck receive Oscar nominations for both acting and directing for this film, and perhaps Goodman or Arkin as well for supporting actor awards. I don't believe they actually filmed it in Iran, but the country portrayed on-screen was actually very beautiful; unfortunately, you would have to look past the rioting and literal blood in the streets to see it. The movie is based on a true story, as well, and the man who actually took part in this mission (whom Affleck portrayed) received a high award from the CIA but was not able to talk about it until 1997, when President Clinton "declassified" the story and his award. Anyone with a penchant for historical films or really anybody who likes a good story will love this movie, and it should do well at the box office because of its acclaimed cast.
Argo is in theaters today, October 12th, and is rated R with a runtime of 120 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.