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Review: Argo (TIFF 2012)

Sep. 13, 2012by: Chris Bumbray


PLOT: Hot on the heels of the Iranian revolution, the American embassy in Tehran is overrun, and the staff is taken hostage. Six Americans manage to escape, and are taken in by the Canadian ambassador. Knowing their days are numbered, the American government turns to CIA ex-filtration specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) who hatches a plan where he'll pretend the Americans are really a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a STAR WARS-knockoff called Argo. Amazingly based on a true story.

REVIEW: ARGO is the kind of movie that leaves you thinking, gee, why don't they make more movies like this? It's a fascinating fact-based thriller (with some artistic licence taken), which features plenty of thrills, a superb cast, and solid entertainment value. Basically, it's a seventies film (driven home by the period Warner Bros., logo, which was also on MAGIC MIKE, and should seriously be their new logo for anything highbrow).


Who would have thought ten years ago that after a few years off, Ben Affleck would reemerge as one of the very best directors currently working in Hollywood. With ARGO, he's three for three (GONE BABY GONE and THE TOWN are his other two films), and like THE TOWN, he once again proves that nobody is able to pull out a good Ben Affleck performance like Affleck himself.

Tony Mendez is the ideal role for the maturing Affleck, with it being a very George Clooney style role- with him playing Mendez as a bit burnt out, but still driven by a sense of compassion and responsibility. The first half of the film, featuring his attempts to navigate Hollywood with the help of Alan Arkin as a veteran producer who helps give his Argo cover some legitimacy- is probably the most fun. Arkin seems to be having a ball, especially when he gets to play opposite John Goodman as real-life make-up artist John Chambers- famous for creating the prosthetic makeup of the PLANET OF THE APES films. It appears that Chambers also freelanced for the CIA, and Goodman steals every scene he's in.


Meanwhile Mendez also has to navigate the hierarchy of the CIA (painted as only slightly less ludicrous than Hollywood), with his superior, played by the great Bryan Cranston, warning him early on that his section chiefs are like the two old fucks from The Muppets. Affleck takes a backseat throughout this whole section, giving his cast a chance to shine. He moves to the forefront in the tense second half of the film, where he gets to Tehran and has to rally the hostages- all of whom are also well cast with character actors like Tate Donovan, Christopher Denham, Clea Duvall, Rory Cochrane, Kerry Bishe and Scoot McNairy.

It's here that the thriller aspect really takes hold, and it's incredible in that you'll notice in the thirty-plus years since the events of ARGO, things still haven't improved between the Middle East and the West, making this a relevant, but also balanced film.

I'd wager that ARGO is yet another TIFF film that's bound to be a major player at the Oscars, and also one that could be a real blockbuster, as it's the kind of film literally any audience can enjoy. It has something for everyone, and it's the kind of film Hollywood should make more.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:49PM on 10/12/2012

can you explain...

what the flaw in this movie was? Why did it not get 10/10? Probably would have if a certain director was at the helm. It's funny how some obviously flawed movies get perfect scores by you and those that you describe as perfect never get perfect scores. Well I guess my post will get deleted again. Good article Mr Bumbray, happy to see you getting back to normal. I do look forward to your future reviews.
what the flaw in this movie was? Why did it not get 10/10? Probably would have if a certain director was at the helm. It's funny how some obviously flawed movies get perfect scores by you and those that you describe as perfect never get perfect scores. Well I guess my post will get deleted again. Good article Mr Bumbray, happy to see you getting back to normal. I do look forward to your future reviews.
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11:11PM on 09/13/2012
October 12th looks to be one of those solid movie days. With 3 movies looking strong choosing one will be tough.
October 12th looks to be one of those solid movie days. With 3 movies looking strong choosing one will be tough.
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7:45PM on 09/13/2012

Good review

I'm also looking forward to seeing this. The only criticism I've heard so far is that it doesn't give Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador, enough credit as the film was based on Mendez's memoirs and he overstated his role.
I'm also looking forward to seeing this. The only criticism I've heard so far is that it doesn't give Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador, enough credit as the film was based on Mendez's memoirs and he overstated his role.
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10:45AM on 09/13/2012

Caught a screening the other night...

Definitely a quality film. My only frustration with it is that I think the humor and the Hollywood sequences keep it from being a truly great dramatic work. It ends up feeling almost light weight, and this isn't a story that should feel light. It has a little bit of an identity crisis. Not a masterpiece, but a very worthwhile and above average movie with great performances. It's also one of the rare recent examples of a truly adult-oriented film coming from big names in Hollywood, which is a
Definitely a quality film. My only frustration with it is that I think the humor and the Hollywood sequences keep it from being a truly great dramatic work. It ends up feeling almost light weight, and this isn't a story that should feel light. It has a little bit of an identity crisis. Not a masterpiece, but a very worthwhile and above average movie with great performances. It's also one of the rare recent examples of a truly adult-oriented film coming from big names in Hollywood, which is a blessing. Affleck's best thus far. 8/10.
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10:01AM on 09/13/2012

One of my most anticipated of the year...

been looking forward to seeing this for a while now. Hope it's as good as the review is giving it.

been looking forward to seeing this for a while now. Hope it's as good as the review is giving it.

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+1
6:45AM on 09/13/2012
Amazing what a former specialist in separating solids from fluids can acheive. Who even knew the CIA had such a division.
Amazing what a former specialist in separating solids from fluids can acheive. Who even knew the CIA had such a division.
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5:19AM on 09/13/2012

Good to hear

Sounds like Affleck is going 3/3. Nice

can you guys do a summary article of TIFF. a list of what you saw and the movies you think really stand out, compared to the ones you dont recommend. So many reviews so fast, i'm having trouble keeping up. But i'm sure to see Argo
Sounds like Affleck is going 3/3. Nice

can you guys do a summary article of TIFF. a list of what you saw and the movies you think really stand out, compared to the ones you dont recommend. So many reviews so fast, i'm having trouble keeping up. But i'm sure to see Argo
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4:20AM on 09/13/2012
So glad it's a 9/10. The trailer had me completely hooked; really looking forward to it even more now, and I'm glad that Ben Affleck has successfully salvaged his reputation with his directing career built upon his acting one.
So glad it's a 9/10. The trailer had me completely hooked; really looking forward to it even more now, and I'm glad that Ben Affleck has successfully salvaged his reputation with his directing career built upon his acting one.
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4:19AM on 09/13/2012
Great to hear, really looking forward to this
Great to hear, really looking forward to this
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+4
3:18AM on 09/13/2012
Been looking forward to this, especially after the trailer. Glad it's good. On a side note, Bryan Cranston keeps getting bit parts and supporting roles, but when is Hollywood going to give this guy a leading part? I think I remember hearing he got one in a film coming out, but seriously, with his excellent turn in all of his supporting roles and his classic character of Walter White being one of modern TV's greatest characters, he deserves to carry a feature. I will even argue that this topic
Been looking forward to this, especially after the trailer. Glad it's good. On a side note, Bryan Cranston keeps getting bit parts and supporting roles, but when is Hollywood going to give this guy a leading part? I think I remember hearing he got one in a film coming out, but seriously, with his excellent turn in all of his supporting roles and his classic character of Walter White being one of modern TV's greatest characters, he deserves to carry a feature. I will even argue that this topic deserves a C'mon Hollywood article.
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+4
3:10AM on 09/13/2012
Great!!

Very Much Looking Forward to Seeing This!!
Great!!

Very Much Looking Forward to Seeing This!!
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