Posted by: GregMo Roberts Source:Killer Reviews
No movie being showcased by this year’s Toronto International Film Festival caught our interest as much as Ben Affleck’s directorial follow up to The Town. Argo, based on a true story and starring Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Adam Arkin, tells the astonishingly true story of how a CIA exfiltration specialist attempts to free six Americans who have taken shelter in the home of the Canadian Ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis.
The story opens on November 4, 1979 when Islamist militants took control of the U.S. Embassy in Iran. 52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days until their eventual release. But six American’s were able to sneak out of the Embassy and find refuge unbeknownst to the Iranian rebels. The CIA, lead by agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) hatched a plan to rescue the house entrapped Americans by posing as producers of a fictional science fiction film. The idea was that Mendez would land in Iran and then convince the six Americans to assume roles as screenwriters, directors and co-producers of the film and they would all fly out of the country together once location scouting was complete in 48 hours.
In an effort to have the mission legitimized, Mendez recruited Hollywood producer Lester Siegel and Special Effects man John Chambers to green-light the script and give the entire project credibility.
If the entire notion of the plan sounds like something that only Hollywood could come up with – well, you’re half right. But Affleck sticks to the facts of the true events and ravels a bite-your-nails type thriller that is guaranteed to be rewarded with year-end nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and most certainly Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin.
Every note, every frame of Argo looks authentic. Affleck, who received incredible support for his last directorial effort, The Town, ups the ante and films Argo with the confidence of a maestro at the top of his game.
The movie shifts between locations of Iran, Hollywood and both the CIA Headquarters and even the White House in this brilliantly crafted adventure. Each scene and character oozes with atmosphere and purpose and Affleck confidently and flawlessly directs himself as the expected hero of the film – a man who risks his own life and career for the lives of six strangers.
Towards the concluding chapters of the film, audiences are sure to be on the edge of their seats – even if they are aware of the historically recorded outcome (shades of Apollo 13). Once the rescue attempt his its apex, the audience at the Toronto screening erupted in an applause never before experienced by this reviewer in his thousands of theatrical screenings. That reaction is a testament to Affleck’s direction that grabbed audiences by the emotional drawstrings keeping us involved in our character’s fates and caring for their safe return.
Argo is not only an important piece of history that many of us were completely oblivious – but it is also one of the better films of this or the past few years.