Cinema Review – Argo
It isn’t very often these days, with the amount of movies being produced, that we find a movie that reminds us why we love movies in the first place, Argo is one of them!
ARGO is a movie that will please a lot of people – gripping and realistic, captivating and entertaining, broad and moving, all tinged with a thrill of a based on true events storyline. Here lies a problem, whenever you base a film upon events that actually happened you always run the risk of missing out vital factors and truths to make the feature more entertaining. ARGO, however feels full and correct, complete with brilliant tension and a razor sharp script that elevates this into one of the films of the year.
Set in 1979 in the height of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Argo is the story of a CIA hatched plan to extract six Americans trapped and hiding out at the Canadian Ambassador’s house in Tehran. Ben Affleck not only helms the film behind the camera but is also in the lead role as Tony Mendez, a CIA agent whose speciality is getting people home from tricky situations. Even though there are many different plans to get this group home, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, the plan chosen involves Mendez convincing the Iranians that the Americans are in fact Canadians and there to scout out locations for a new Sci-Fi movie. To make this plan more convincing Mendez sets up a fake Production company and enlists the help of Hollywood make up artist and a producer. Peoples lives are at risk here, so this Movie needs to seem real.
ARGO is perfectly themed for the late seventies, from the fashion to the camera work everything feels authentic. Affleck is now three for three with his direction of films and with each of his features he seems to grow a little in stature. A true talent emerging through the ranks. He expertly builds the tension throughout until you are literally on the edge of your seat. You never really know if this plan is going to work and by the time you get to the finale you are so invested in the safety of this group you will be almost shouting at the screen!! The scheme feels very fragile, with every turn the Iranians are getting closer to finding the missing six, and with every twist the chances of all out WAR grow nearer.
The beauty of this film is the finely tuned ensemble performance from all involved. There is no real stand out, all seem to hold their own very well and no one is left carrying the weight of the story on their own. Alan Arkin and John Goodman as the Hollywood producer and Make-up man respectively effortlessly steal the show on the Tinsel Town segments and Affleck simply hands it to them. Actually Affleck is the most low key in the way of performance, his portrayal of Mendez is quiet and unassuming which may have been a master stroke by the director/actor in that it allows the rest of the cast space to shine. Bryan Cranston is excellent as the CIA overlord, almost in Heisenberg style and the six hostages all do well in portraying the real fear of death they are facing.
Although this is a highly tense thriller, there are some very funny scenes to give us some respite. Mostly stemming from the Hollywood sections. It is remarkable and hilarious how they set up a film so quickly and even get the press lapping up the story to make it seem more realistic. Only in Hollywood right?
The greatest strength of ARGO is that there is something for everyone. Filled with strong story telling and believable characters that you are willing to survive. It isn’t very often these days, with the amount of movies being produced, that we find a movie that reminds us why we love movies in the first place, Argo is one of them!