Argo

October 15, 2012 No Comments

Film Rating:  7.75/10

Tehran, 1979 does not stir up warm, fuzzy feelings.

When the Shah of Iran’s crumbling empire imploded at the American Embassy, six Americans managed to escape to the Canadian Embassy where they were hidden, hoping against all odds for some kind of rescue.  The streets around them were filled with masses of angry Iranians crying for the heads of anyone remotely associated with Americans.  Ben Affleck’s new film “Argo” is an action-packed recounting of the incredible rescue attempt of the six Americans.  Affleck directed and stars (along with scene stealers John Goodman and Alan Arkin) in a story that would be considered unbelievable, if it hadn’t been recorded in classified CIA documents.

Argo is the name of a screenplay used to create a  bogus film, whose fictionalized film crew (headed by Affleck) serve as the “cover” for the rescue attempt.  Too much detail is too much information, but Affleck creates heart pounding excitement for events whose outcome is already known.  It is fascinating to see the White House staff of that time come to life again and Affleck again weaves historical footage with his own takes very effectively.  The origins of radical Islam are menacing, but not demonized (although the film clearly cites us, even the CIA, as the “good guys”).  Affleck’s agent is square of jaw, scant on emotion except when he struggles to “do the right thing,” and physically solid (we get to see his six pack physique, to assure us that this hunk means business).  Sometimes the comedic banter between Goodman and Arkin dilutes rather than tempers the intensity of the unfolding drama, but this is a minor quibble.

The story is compelling and we are drawn into the race to save the six.  The themes are unfortunately timely, which of course add to the tension of the film.  It FEELS so familiar.  Too familiar.  The heroism is spread around a bit, but it is Affleck who saves the day.  It is not meant to serve as an analytical dissection of the events or their consequences.  The “feel good” ending, with a well-placed American flag feels forced, but it is nonetheless a remarkable story and Affleck successfully creates the film he set out to make.

Makes you want to hug a CIA agent.  Really?  Really.   That alone would qualify it as a “Must See Movie.”      Jolyn Wagne

 

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