Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Ben Affleck again takes on double duty as the director and actor in the political thriller "Argo".  Having also directed "Gone Baby Gone" (2007) and "the Town" (2010) there are going to be high expectations.   "Argo" is loosely based on Tony Mendez's account of the true story of how a CIA exfiltration specialist attempts to free six U.S. diplomats from Tehran who have taken shelter in the home of the Canadian Ambassador during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis also known as the "Canadian Caper".  The heroic mission was kept top secret until President Bill Clinton lifted the mission's classified status in 1997.  After receiving people's choice praise at the Toronto Film Festival, this quickly became a must see film for me.

The story opens with a mixture of cartoon story boards and historic news footage telling the story of the political events between the U.S. and Iran that lead up to Iranian militants taking control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and taking 52 Americans hostage.  During the siege six American's were able to escape and find refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home.  President Jimmy Carter is shitting enough bricks to build a pyramid and turns to the CIA who is looking for the best of all the bad ideas as it appears to be a situation that cannot be resolved.  Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is an exfiltration specialist with the CIA that creates a plan to rescue the house entrapped Americans by posing as a film crew for a fake science fiction film titled "Argo".  In an effort to have the mission legitimized, Mendez recruits Hollywood producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and Special Effects man John Chambers (John Goodman) to give the project credibility with the idea of turning the fake movie into a fake hit.  Tony Mendez finally gets permission from the U.S. government, his boss (Bryan Cranston), and the White House (Kyle Chandler) to make a fake movie. 

The casting in the film is absolutely amazing and the performances are some of the best this year.  There are several casting choices that are mostly familiar through TV.  Zeljko Ivanek and Titus Welliver (best known as the man in black from "Lost") work at the CIA along with Bryan Cranston whose best idea was to give the six American's bikes to escape.  Luckily, training wheels and Gatorade weren't enough to seal the deal.  The six American's seeking to escape are Bob Anders (Tate Donovan), Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall), Mark Lijek (Christopher Denham), Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy), Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bishe), and Lee Schatz (Rory Cochrane).  For the most part they are unknown, but that helps disconnect (and connect) the familiarity of the story to the audience.  The American's are aided by an actual Canadian, Victor Garber (best known for Alias). 

Even though Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin are not receiving significant screen time in the film, they deliver the more memorable performances.  They certainly had the best lines, but their performances go beyond the clever lines that contribute to bringing some laughs to the otherwise serious story.  They fit perfectly and during the closing credits they are shown in photographs next to the real people they are recreating and it is impressive how similar they look.  The authenticity of the story is enhanced by the historic news footage from Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw as well as footage from President Jimmy Carter.

Ben Affleck's previous films have only received Oscar nominations for supporting roles, but I have a feeling that Ben Affleck will receive a nomination for best director, and possibly supporting nominations for Alan Arken and Bryan Cranston.  Overall, "Argo" should also receive a best picture nomination and receives 5 Quacks.  Really cannot think of a reason someone wouldn't enjoy this film, so if you do find yourself on the outside... well "argo fuck yourself". 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...