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Review: Argo

Oct. 10, 2012by: JimmyO

PLOT: In 1979 during the Iranian Revolution, the American Embassy was taken over and several American citizens were taken hostage. However six US diplomats were able to leave unharmed and were finally able to take refuge with the Canadian Ambassador to Iran. In an effort to get them safely out of the country, a CIA tech op devises a scheme to fly them out from the airport under the guise of a film crew only time is not on their side.

REVIEW: The idea of a CIA technical operations officer posing as a Hollywood player to try and help six Americans escape during the Iran hostage crisis is far-fetched to say the least. Yet it happened. As dangerous as it was, in 1979 Tony Mendez went into Iran during these tumultuous times and attempted the impossible. This is a story that sounds almost too crazy for Hollywood, perhaps that is why it is one of the best and enthralling movies of 2012. This is real drama.

In the opening sequence of the new Ben Affleck directed ARGO we witness the hostile takeover of the American Embassy in Tahran. It is a detailed recreation of a terrifying time in American history as Islamist militants took 52 Americans hostage in support of the Iranian Revolution. The images of men crawling on top of each other to climb the wall to get into the Embassy are nerve-wracking. As are the scenes of men and women being taken away at gunpoint with their mouths taped shut. All Americans were taken captive aside from six diplomats who were witness to the acts of violence around them just out of sight. Before the swarming mob flooding the embassy is able to get to the consulate building where they are working, they are able to escape avoiding capture.

While the six Americans take shelter with Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), back in the states a CIA officer named Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with scheme to get them out. He contacts a special effects expert by the name of John Chambers (John Goodman) and a producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) from Hollywood. They concoct a grand scheme about the making of a science fiction epic film called ARGO. In this elaborate plan, they intend to bring the Americans home as a film crew who had been location scouting in Iran. Throughout the course of this thriller we see how each character is affected by the series of events including the six U.S. citizens Bob Anders (Tate Donovan), Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall), Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy), Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bish) Lee Schatz (Rory Cochran) and Mark Lijek (Christopher Denham) all of whom are perfectly cast.

One of the key factors that really work here is the well placed humor. The script by Chris Terrio tackles this very serious subject matter while giving the audience room to breathe. This is especially true in the Hollywood side of the story. Both Arkin and Goodman are perfect here with some genuinely funny dialogue, after all, the idea of a cheesy science fiction flick saving peoples lives is genuinely an outlandish thought. Yet in no way is the humor inappropriate or disrespectful as their characters are not simply comic relief. Both of these gentlemen give Oscar worthy performances and they add a perfect balance to Afflecks terrific dramatic turn.

There was a time when the name Ben Affleck seemed to generally be associated with bad films like GIGLI and PEARL HARBOR. Yet after his directorial debut GONE BABY GONE and the impressive THE TOWN, his skills behind and in front of the camera have become very clear. Here, he has crafted a solid thriller that builds tension up until the final act, so much so that I was completely involved in this frightening situation. It also helps that such detail was given to the period in which it took place as well. From a tattered Hollywood sign to the news coverage that aired during the takeover, the director created a very real and engaging film that is likely to appeal to most viewers.

Simply put, ARGO is a stunner. From the brilliant opening sequence to the final few frames, Affleck and company offer an intelligent and scarily real tale of heroism. Much like in real life, the heroes are unexpected and thus there is something very powerful about their conflicts. To think that this story was classified so long makes it all the more intriguing it wasnt until President Clinton declassified it in 1997. Thankfully, the story can be told and was done so by one of the most interesting directors working today. This is a captivating portrait of a troubled time in history. ARGO is a perfect combination of storytelling, smarts and suspense.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:08AM on 10/11/2012

Historically inaccurate but a great movie nonetheless

I saw the flick and it's a great thriller; I hope it cleans up at the Oscars.
Unfortunately, Affleck overstates the CIA's involvement in the Canadian Caper. Kenneth Taylor and the Canadian government were the senior partners; the CIA added the movie angle.
According to Taylor, Mendez was totally in our hands. His involvement over his weekend in Tehran was not much . . . just some visa stamps. Ottawa had provided everything else."
According to Taylor, All the documentation to
I saw the flick and it's a great thriller; I hope it cleans up at the Oscars.
Unfortunately, Affleck overstates the CIA's involvement in the Canadian Caper. Kenneth Taylor and the Canadian government were the senior partners; the CIA added the movie angle.
According to Taylor, Mendez was totally in our hands. His involvement over his weekend in Tehran was not much . . . just some visa stamps. Ottawa had provided everything else."
According to Taylor, All the documentation to authenticate the diplomats as Canadians, the business cards, credit cards, the passports, the academic credentials, everything came out of Canada.
If it was truly an American action, the CIA would have taken credit, especially after Operation Eagle Claw. The idea that the American government would voluntarily hand credit to Taylor and Canada for the operation is ludicrous, especially since Jimmy Carter was in real political trouble after Eagle Claw failed (many observers feel Eagle Claw's failure resulted in Carter losing the 1980 election).
All that aside, it's a great movie. I really enjoyed it.
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2:50PM on 10/11/2012
well the whole thing can't be completely accurate if it was suppossed to be top secret right?
well the whole thing can't be completely accurate if it was suppossed to be top secret right?
12:27AM on 10/12/2012
The whole incident's been declassified so we know all the details. But look at it this way: the Iranian Crisis put Jimmy Carter in a corner and has been considered one of the reasons why he lost to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election, despite leading in the polls for most of the campaign.

Given how embattled Carter was feeling, if the Argo operation was American-based, Carter would have seized on it to bolster his position in the upcoming election. But since Taylor and the Canadian
The whole incident's been declassified so we know all the details. But look at it this way: the Iranian Crisis put Jimmy Carter in a corner and has been considered one of the reasons why he lost to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election, despite leading in the polls for most of the campaign.

Given how embattled Carter was feeling, if the Argo operation was American-based, Carter would have seized on it to bolster his position in the upcoming election. But since Taylor and the Canadian government did most of the work, Carter couldn't claim any credit without pissing off one of the US's biggest allies and the country that just did the US a major solid.
10:08PM on 10/13/2012
Here's my last word on the subject: in a Toronto Star interview with the real Tony Mendez, he said “Canada was still the real hero in the whole thing . . . Ken (Taylor) took a huge risk and he handled it wonderfully. He got the blame and he got the glory.”

Here's more from Mendez: “When the six were seeking asylum, they were turned away from so many places, but when they came to the Canadians, (immigration officer) John Sheardon just said, ‘What took you so long?’ and welcome them
Here's my last word on the subject: in a Toronto Star interview with the real Tony Mendez, he said “Canada was still the real hero in the whole thing . . . Ken (Taylor) took a huge risk and he handled it wonderfully. He got the blame and he got the glory.”

Here's more from Mendez: “When the six were seeking asylum, they were turned away from so many places, but when they came to the Canadians, (immigration officer) John Sheardon just said, ‘What took you so long?’ and welcome them in. He didn’t even have to ask Ken. He knew he’d be on side.”

Say what you will. I've said my piece.
+3
11:30PM on 10/10/2012

Bold Statement!

Can't remember the last time I saw a 10/10 review on the Blo.
Better not be foolin'.
Can't remember the last time I saw a 10/10 review on the Blo.
Better not be foolin'.
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+0
10:27PM on 10/10/2012
Go Benny-boy!
Go Benny-boy!
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+2
12:32PM on 10/10/2012

Bold Statement!

Can't remember the last time I saw a 10/10 review on the Blo.
Better not be foolin'.
Can't remember the last time I saw a 10/10 review on the Blo.
Better not be foolin'.
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7:41PM on 10/13/2012
If my memory serves me right, it was for either Drive or Warrior.
If my memory serves me right, it was for either Drive or Warrior.
7:40AM on 10/10/2012
Wow...very excited.
Wow...very excited.
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6:27AM on 10/10/2012
10/10? I've got to see this movie.
10/10? I've got to see this movie.
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+1
4:49AM on 10/10/2012
I saw this on monday, and while I wouldn't say I'd give it a 10 (not quite anyway), it definitely deserves it. I was completely on the edge of my seat the entire time. The last hour of this movie is probably the most intense cinema I have seen all year. An absolutely fantastic movie on a fascinating part of American history. I did feel a bit of disconnect from the characters, as this is almost entirely about the situation at hand and the operation, but it's none the less incredibly intense,
I saw this on monday, and while I wouldn't say I'd give it a 10 (not quite anyway), it definitely deserves it. I was completely on the edge of my seat the entire time. The last hour of this movie is probably the most intense cinema I have seen all year. An absolutely fantastic movie on a fascinating part of American history. I did feel a bit of disconnect from the characters, as this is almost entirely about the situation at hand and the operation, but it's none the less incredibly intense, thrilling, and even a bit frightening at points. I'll add it's also quite funny, particularly all the scenes in Hollywood. Great film, one of the years best and a definite Oscar contender.
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3:18AM on 10/10/2012
Well now, talk about a good dilemma. I'll have to figure out which movie I'll see first in my Friday night double feature : Seven Psychopaths or Argo. Really excited to see both and really excited by the positive press they're having!
Well now, talk about a good dilemma. I'll have to figure out which movie I'll see first in my Friday night double feature : Seven Psychopaths or Argo. Really excited to see both and really excited by the positive press they're having!
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3:08AM on 10/10/2012

The downside of traveling

i have to wait a whole month for this to come out in my area. I can't wait!
i have to wait a whole month for this to come out in my area. I can't wait!
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2:06AM on 10/10/2012
I absolutely agree with the 10/10 rating and the review as a whole: this was one of the best films of the year, and what I hope will become a bona fide Best Picture contender at the Oscars. Ben Affleck seems to have regained all the credibility he lost following the likes of Gigli and Daredevil (and, as mentioned in the above review, Pearl Harbour) with his directing stints in recent years, and this film most definitely continues that winning streak. It really didn't feel like your average
I absolutely agree with the 10/10 rating and the review as a whole: this was one of the best films of the year, and what I hope will become a bona fide Best Picture contender at the Oscars. Ben Affleck seems to have regained all the credibility he lost following the likes of Gigli and Daredevil (and, as mentioned in the above review, Pearl Harbour) with his directing stints in recent years, and this film most definitely continues that winning streak. It really didn't feel like your average overly-embellished loosely based on a true story Hollywood deal, and thats something to be admired.
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1:58AM on 10/10/2012
WOW so it seems Affleck is 3 for 3 in the directing department & since I was extremely impressed with how great The Town was, this film definitely has my attention. I have read & heard this movie is almost too good to be true if well it wasn't true period. That alone is grounds for an epic movie & I hope Affleck & co get some awards season love. I truly believe The Town got screwed over at the Oscars.
WOW so it seems Affleck is 3 for 3 in the directing department & since I was extremely impressed with how great The Town was, this film definitely has my attention. I have read & heard this movie is almost too good to be true if well it wasn't true period. That alone is grounds for an epic movie & I hope Affleck & co get some awards season love. I truly believe The Town got screwed over at the Oscars.
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2:07AM on 10/10/2012
Amen to that: Affleck probably deserved a Best Director nom, at the least, for The Town.
Amen to that: Affleck probably deserved a Best Director nom, at the least, for The Town.
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