ARGO (R)

AFLECK'S ARGO IS NO FAKE


To be honest, I usually like my movies more…well entertaining. After all that’s the reason I shell out the bucks at the movie theater. However, being a lifetime fan of irony, I was curious about a movie about making a fake movie. So, this much toted, surprisingly successful, Best Picture Oscar winner perked my interest for a viewing.

It was the closure of the 1970’s, and Iran was front and center of a political/religious, revolution further fueled by the United States support of the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Hostilities towards the US were at an all-time high, with daily street demonstrations of emotionally charged mobs spewing anti-US hatred.

In a 1979 storming-of-the-Bastille takeover of the US Embassy, 54 American workers were captured, but six escaped into hiding at the home of the Canadian Ambassador. Enter Tony Mendez, CIA Operative, (Ben Affleck) pegged by the US government to sneak the hapless escapees out of the country. It seemed like a plan doomed to failure from the beginning - fly into mid-revolutionary Iran with a movie script, some story boards and business cards and exit two days later with six members of the Argo “film crew.” The scheme was so bad it was called the ‘best of the worst’ of the rescue options. After Mendez pitches some persuasive arguments for his idea to the US government, they reluctantly agree to support his lunatic plan on a grand scale in cahoots with Hollywood no less. What follows is a motion picture throbbing with Hollywood character-actor-brilliants and the game is on.

Lights, cameras, action: Mendez needs a legitimate cast and crew to pull off the charade. Enter Lester Siegal, (Alan Arkin) as the blasé film producer, who hogged every scene, crap-talking his way past Hollywood heavies. (He was so good that Mendez should have taken him to Iran to bamboozle the military guards). John Goodman was cast as Academy Award winning make-up artist, John Chambers who was having a good time at the tongue-in-cheek role of pulling the wool over the eyes of the Hollywood elite while helping the US government. Veteran chameleon actor, Victor Garber plays even keeled Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor. Mendez is a professional Exfiltration Specialist and Affleck underplays him enough to be believable without trying to pull out the cool-guy-special-agent act.

It turned out to be a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat experience that delivered suspense and intrigue carefully packaged with Affleck in the director’s seat. The film was engaging, funnier than expected and a mini vignette of the American political scene of thirty years ago. Although Grant Heslov and George Clooney helped produce this movie, it was clearly Ben Affleck’s baby. The actor, director, (The Town) and Academy Award winning screen-writer (Good Will Hunting) proves with this production, that he is an idea whose time has come in Tinsel Town.

It’s been a long journey of professional hiccups in Hollywood for Ben Affleck, but as he so aptly put it during his Best Picture acceptance speech “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, cause it’s gonna happen. All that matters is that you gotta get up”. I think that Affleck is back up with Argo.

Comments

  1. Loved this movie! Even though I knew the outcome, you're right in saying it was STILL a nail biter.

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