Set in the Iran in 1980, Argo is based around a sci-fi film script that is used by the CIA as a ploy to extract 6 US embassy staff held up in the Canadian embassy. Affleck plays Mendez, the morose CIA agent, disheartened by the ludicrous plans to get the US citizens out of Iran by bicycle in the midst of winter. He comes up with an idea of using the embassy staff as a Canadian film crew, on location in Iran, looking at locations for the up and coming shoot of Argo.
Bearded Affleck is superb in this tense, political drama. He is a man on a mission, with a sole purpose of getting these 6 US citizens out of Iran. John Goodman plays his Hollywood contact and Alan Arkin as the showbiz muscle to gets the project off the ground. Everything is fabricated, down to magazine advertisement, hiring of actors and even a read through of the script in costume.
I think the films charm is the fact that it is based on a true story. I can remember the tension in Iran in my teenage years and particularly the interruption of the snooker final to watch the newsflash of the Iranian Embassy siege by the SAS (every teenage boy will remember that). Unfortunately, this story is unknown to many as it was SO undercover. It was the Canadians that took the glory for this extraction and the Mendez character drift into obscurity with a medal that is offered ‘behind closed doors’.
If I was being critical, the ending is fairly ‘Happily Ever After’ but this can be forgiven with the tense journey it takes you on to get to this point. The cinematography is epic and the backdrop of the Zagros Mountains has the effect of almost feeling claustrophobic. The airport scene and the take off is so tense I now have no fingernails to speak of.
If Gone Baby Gone and Argo are anything to go on, Affleck has a long career in acting and directing his own films and we should all be looking forward to his next offering. This is a political thriller, with a real human story and a feel good ending.
Reviewer: Steve Warner
Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin