Movie Review: Argo (2012)

Argo is a suspenseful film that chronicles the covert rescue of six US Embassy workers who hid in the Canadian Embassy after the Iranian Revolution erupted. The movie boasts a stellar cast, snappy dialogue, and superb cinematography that ramps up the tension once the action shifts to Iran. Ben Affleck pulls double duty as director and star, and is effective as both.

I thought I had Argo’s Oscar success figured out in the first half hour. When CIA agent “Kevin” (Affleck) devises an extraction strategy involving a fake sci-fi movie, he goes to Hollywood—and snark ensues. John Goodman and Alan Arkin play a Hollywood makeup artist and famous director, respectively, and both hilariously deliver sly in-jokes about the movie industry and its particular culture. To create credibility for their front, they select a script entitled Argo.

This act stands out through a series of overlapping shots and voice overs during a crucial moment in solidifying Argo’s cred as an actual movie. As prominent actors do a publicized script reading of cheesy heroics, a representative of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran is also shown reading from a document denouncing the US for its crimes. The parallelism is delivered boldly, but isn’t bludgeoned at audiences.

Afterwards, Affleck’s character flies out to Iran. This is when things got really tense. There were several times during this section of the film that I could feel my heart pounding. The script and camerawork do an excellent job of laying out the stakes. To understate: Iran in 1980 was not a good time to be American in the new Islamic Republic.

I’ll end here to avoid spoilers. But I will say that it’s one heck of a ride, with a satisfying little twist at the end, and a thoughtful resolution to a minor character’s arc. It’s very interesting what Affleck chooses to do with the real-life operative he plays—maybe the guy really was that controlled and low-key? If so, no wonder he succeeded.

In conclusion: check out Argo if you haven’t seen it yet!

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