Argo Review

Disclaimer: Even though Ben Affleck, with his hirsute visage and fabulous 70’s dress sense, is the actual embodiment of my ideal man, the following review is based on its merits and not my desire to give up my own identity in the pursuit of moulding myself into whatever it is he deems lovable.

Based on the true, and declassified story of how CIA operative Tony Mendez rescued six American embassy employees in the aftermath of 1979 Iran Hostage crisis, Argo is an adventurous mixture of tense drama and exception comic timing.

The film opens with the siege of the American Embassy in Tehran, after yet another US financed overseas dictator has successfully flown his native coop following decades of oppression, torture and systematic execution of his own people.

Instead of giving up the tyrannical Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi so that justice may be served, good ol’ President Jimmy Carter instead offers his country’s protection to the man responsible for mass murder.

God bless America.

Outraged, Iranians storm the embassy where six American staff manage to sneak out a back door and head to the relative safety of the Canadian ambassador’s house.

Seventy days later and with no sign of resolution in sight, as America arrogantly refuse to give up the Shah, the CIA finally start planning to get these six embassy personal out.

It won’t take long for the Iranians to work out some people are missing from the embassy, and the punishment for those found would be severe.

After listening to a series increasingly improbable rescue plans from his fellow government agents, Tony Mendez chimes in with a ridiculous idea of his own; getting the six Americans to pose as a Canadian film crew on a location scouting tour of Iran.

With time running out, Mendez heads to LA to recruit some famous help from Planet Of The Apes make-up artist and CIA buddy John Chambers and the sharp-witted Hollywood producer Lester Siegel.

They quickly get to work creating enough of a smokescreen around their epic fake film Argo, a sci-fi adventure set in the Middle East.

But the more time they spend putting this together, the more chance there is of the six embassy staff being found; so Mendez puts himself in the jaws of death to try and rescue his fellow Americans.

Expertly acted, written and directed, Argo creates great cinematic tension from its opening scenes and manages to keep this up throughout the entire film.

Ben Affleck plays director and leading man Mendez to great effect, but it’s the double act of John Goodman and Alan Arkin as Chambers and Siegel respectively that steal the show.

These two fine actors chemistry and humour is good enough to be spun into a regular Friday night comedy show, and the comic and campy exchanges between Arkin, Goodman and Affleck make a great foil to the tension of events overseas.

These scenes in LA form a fantastic counterpoint to those in Iran and yet the sum is much greater than its respective parts.

With an inescapable undercurrent of pro-American rhetoric running throughout, it’d be easy to dismiss this as sensationalist and indoctrinating propaganda.

But Argo is more than that. It’s a fantastic, gripping film that further solidifies Affleck’s undeniable talents as a director.

As well as his ideal man status in my heart.

Shelton Lindsay

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November 2012
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