- Directed by Ben Affleck
- August 31, 2012 (Telluride) / October 12, 2012 (United States)
A CIA agent pretending to be a Hollywood producer scouting locations in Iran is actually running a dangerous operation to rescue a group of Americans trapped in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis.
Argo is a mostly an okay political thriller. Do not go in expecting historical accuracy and you will be fine with that bit. It is a Hollywood movie after all and accuracy is something Hollywood never excels in. This is a dramatic presentation of real events so they take some liberties for dramatic purposes with what happened.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency exfiltration specialist (that’s a real job?) Tony Mendez (the very Latino Ben Affleck) is brought in merely to go through the motions. The powers-that-be have already decided on their plan which is quite bad. Eventually though he is tasked with coming up with a better option which he does not think there really is but he knows that what is being considering at the moment will not end well for the people that managed to escape the embassy and are currently hiding at an undisclosed location in the city. Then after a phone call with his son on the other side of the country during which he turns on the TV to watch Battle for the Planet of the Apes with his child he has a moment of inspiration: a fake movie as a cover.
That is audacious plan that sounds straight out of a Hollywood film, but that very idea is what they really did. How much of a ballsy out of the box thinker do you have to be to come up with something like that? Coming up with it and thinking it through takes some serious imagination.
The film used archival footage from CBS, NBC, and ABC to pull you into the story along with songs from the era like “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits, “Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen, “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, and the anachronistic (since it was not released until the following year) “Little T&A” by The Rolling Stones.
The climactic scene at the airport is the best part of Argo. You are worried throughout the sequence that they will be discovered. Each time director Affleck brings the group and the plan close to being called out and then pulls everything back from the brink of disaster. This is the one part that everybody points out that actually did not happen. Once they arrived at the airport in real life nothing much happened. Who cares though? It is a Hollywood movie and you watch a Hollywood movie to be entertained and not be educated.
They try to make up for their inaccuracy by putting informational blurbs and a voice over by Jimmy Carter at the end. That’s the only point you will be 100% accurately informed in this movie.
Still though it is lacking…something. There is plenty of real-life danger and intrigue to pull from in this story. There is so much real danger to create nail-biting drama but it never quite takes off. It never quite reaches its potential. It goes through the motions and because of that never gets to where it should be. Ben Affleck dropped the ball.
Argo is a film with so much potential and it just misses the mark by that much. A good cast and an interesting real-life story are wasted. I say skip this.