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Argo (Review 2)



Reviewer: Katey Stoetzel

Director: Ben Affleck

Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman

Released: 7th November 2012

Two years ago, Ben Affleck directed and starred in The Town. And three years before that, he wrote and directed Gone Baby Gone. Each movie came away with critical acclaim, a few Oscar nominations and wins, and shot Mr. Affleck into the ranks of some of the best directors around.

But if those examples are not enough to prove Affleck’s artistic brilliance, Argo just might be the tie-breaker.

Argo tells the declassified true story of a part of the 1980 Iranian Hostage Crisis. During a take down of the US Embassy in Iran, six Americans escape from the chaotic rioters and end up hiding out in a house owned by some Canadians. Sixty nine days later, Tony Mendez’s role in this story begins.

The US gets word that six Americans escaped and have not yet been found out by the Iranians. Since they are safe for the time being, the government decides to focus on everyone else actually being held hostage. However, Tony Mendez changes their minds. He comes up with an idea to create a fake movie, Argo, and fly into Iran as a Canadian film crew. With the right amount of backstory, these cover up stories will get the six safely out of Iran. With the help of Hollywood make up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and movie producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), Mendez is able to create a solid back story.

As both director and star of this movie, Ben Affleck soars. His work with the camera gives the movie a gritty, authentic feel to the story. The picture is very beautiful to look at, and every image captured on screen does not shy away from the horrific details of the time period. The cinematography just adds to the wonderful and soaring artistic ability of everyone who worked on this movie. This is the kind of movie that should be showed in film classes.

The pacing of the movie is spot on. We first get a back story of the Iranian Hostage Crisis through real footage and cartoons. Then the first real moments of the movie starts right off the take down of the US Embassy, and does not slow down on action one bit. It’s suspenseful, and keeps your heart beating in anticipation.

Of course, we can’t talk about Argo without mentioning the supporting actors. As mentioned before, John Goodman and Alan Arkin play the men in Hollywood, and their comic relief really balances out the seriousness of the topic, but without laying on the comedy too thick. Some honourable mentions go to Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Jack O’Donnell, Mendez’s eyes and ears inside the government. Victor Garber as one of the Canadians hiding the six Americans, Chris Messina (this guy is everywhere!) as second to Bryan Cranston, and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) as another government official.

Where I feel the movie fell a little flat is the understanding of Affleck’s character, Tony Mendez. There could have been a bit more back story with him (all we know is that him and his wife are ‘taking a break’ and he has a ten year old son), but I understand the story is mostly about the events in Iran. This is only a slight hiccup in an otherwise fantastic event-driven drama.

Argo is already on the list of Oscar rumors, and I would not be surprised if it made the bill. If you find yourself at the movies paying for some crappy movie, I ask you to rethink you life choices, and instead see Argo, because it might just change your life.

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