For those of you who have complained that my reviews don’t contain a rating system or anything that can quickly state a movie’s worth so they can decide in a hurry what to go see at the cinemas tonight, allow me to grant you your wish just this once:
Go see Argo. I mean right now. Leave the computer where it is, just go. Come back when you’re done.
Now Showing this week is Argo, directed by Ben Affleck. Argo is a film that chronicles a CIA operation to ex-filtrate six US embassy employees from Iran in 1979 that was “declassified” in 1997. While a large group of Iranian revolutionaries stormed the US Embassy in Iran and took its occupants hostage, the six employees in question escaped undetected and took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. As tension grows in Iran, the CIA have no viable means of getting these six people out of the country without them likely being caught and executed in front of the entire world. That is, until an ex-filtration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes along with a plan so crazy that it just might work: he flies in to Iran to meet them and they masquerade as a Canadian film crew doing a location scout in Iran for an upcoming science fiction movie titled “Argo”.
As I’m sure you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The acting was fantastic, particularly from the Hollywood executives (John Goodman and Alan Arkin) as well as the six embassy employees (Kerry Bishe, Christopher Denham, Rory Cochrane, Scoot McNairy, Clea DuVall and Tate Donovan). They all successfully carried the humour of the film as well as the seriousness of the stakes involved. The directing was fantastic, this is the first Ben Affleck directed film I have seen and I am very impressed! The way he juggled the two tones of the film was brilliantly handled, but more on that in a moment. Bottom line, Argo is everything it has been hyped up to be and is most certainly worth your attention. I would also be very surprised if it isn’t nominated for Best Picture at the next Oscars, but I also wouldn’t be upset to see it win it either.
As I mentioned before, it is the tone of the film that was a huge highlight for me. I would describe Argo as a political thriller hiding within a comedic con movie. The scenario of staging the making of a b-grade science fiction movie is incredibly humourous, with phony table readings, mocked up storyboards, and two Hollywood producers doing what they do best for the sake of national security: lying! Now, the premise of convincing the world that a movie is being made when in actual fact it isn’t is a very entertaining one from a comedic standpoint, but Argo also never forgets the true seriousness of its subject matter. That being that this whole ruse is to save six innocent people from torture and execution at the hands of the Iranian revolution. Affleck handles the balance between the two perfectly. He opens the film with a history lesson in the politics leading up to, and the event of, the Iranian people storming the US embassy. It is dark, it is brutal and it is a very powerful opening. Then that tone takes a backseat for the lunacy of the ex-filtration mission to kick in, but the film never lets you forget it; cutting back to the frightened employees, the hostages in the embassy and the horror taking place in the Iranian streets. The two tones just work together so well, and it makes for very powerful viewing.
As I said before: the bottom line is that Argo is definitely worth your attention. I would recommend that everyone go see it because it is without a doubt one of the best movies of the year. And to those readers who did read this far before seeing the film unlike those others I mentioned at the beginning, my suggestion still remains the same:
Go see Argo. Right now.
See you next time!