I finally got around to watching Argo, which has been creating a lot of buzz. I felt guilty for not seeing it earlier, as this was the number one “What’d you think of ___?” request. Well now I’ve seen it, and on the approach of the Oscars, I’d love to give you my thoughts!
Ben Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, a CIA agent tasked with coming up with a plan to remove six Americans who are trapped in Iran during a hostage crisis. To remove them, Mendez must create an elaborate plot revolving around a fake science fiction movie which is looking to shoot in Iran. Mendez flies in alone but he’s looking to fly out with the six Americans with him.
This movie does a lot right. The trailers hadn’t really impressed me (hence me not seeing the movie for months after its release). However, the real movie is an incredible tale of suspense and political intrigue. Luckily, this isn’t a movie that depends on the politics to make it interesting. That’s not the core of this story.
The core of this story is the six Americans who must leave their safe haven and attempt to travel through hostile territory. Each step of this process is riddled with tension and I was literally on the edge of my seat for most of these encounters.
Ben Affleck carries the story as the selfless hero who is risking his own life to save these six strangers. The movie does a great job of showing you Mendez’s life and what he is potentially risking. Other standouts include John Goodman and Alan Arkin as two Hollywood insiders who doing their best to make this project look like a real movie, including staging a fake reading of the script which is pretty entertaining.
The six Americans also do a great job, though they’re all relative unknowns (to me anyways). Their hesitance to follow Mendez’s plan is completely believable and their journey is an easy one to empathize with, making this film work in all the right ways.
There’s a lot of things that work right in this movie that I don’t often applaud. The score was incredible and popular songs from the 70s were used to really set the tone. I also appreciated the amount of work that went into making this movie look legitimate. During the credits, it showed side-by-side comparisons of popular images, places, and people. They really put some incredible effort into making this a legitimate experience. I’m not sure what embellishments were made to the story, but the setting was fantastic.
What didn’t work?
I watched this movie with my roommate whose family is from Iran and he had some unique perspectives about the vilification of the Iranian people. They didn’t really show (m)any Iranians who disagreed with what was happening and maybe left the country. I think there were some moments that touched on it on a very superficial level, such as showing Iranians who were in the American embassy applying for visas and the role of the maid in the Canadian ambassador’s home. But I agree that more could’ve been done to add another sense of depth, and authenticity, to this plot.
Argo was a fantastic film and I don’t disagree that it deserved Best Picture award from the Golden Globes and that it’s in the running for the Oscars. It combines plenty of action, with incredible tension, with a cast that definitely jumps right in. The storyline is tight and the pacing is spot-on. Overall, worth all the hype.