When ‘Argo’ walks away with some sort of Oscar gold next February, I really want Ben Affleck to stand in front of the media and flip all of his naysayers the bird. Once the butt of many jokes, nobody laughs at him now. Between ‘Gone Baby Gone‘, ‘The Town‘ and, now, ‘Argo’, Affleck has shown his strengths as writer, director, producer and actor. Sure, he starred in a few stinkers before these three examples, but he’s now pulled off something that even Robert De Niro hasn’t been able to achieve – a full recovery.
As fictionalized as the idea may seem, the story behind ‘Argo’ is absolutely true. As I’m sure most people are aware, the American embassy in Iran was raided by militia in 1979, and 52 Americans were held hostage for more than a year. The part of the story that most history classes don’t teach, however, is about the six Americans who fled the embassy and went into hiding. When just about every other nation turned them away, they finally found refuge with the Canadian ambassador.
These six people were so deep in hiding that not even the American government was aware of their escape until seven weeks later. At that point, the Canadians felt the heat as the hunt for the hiding Americans became more intense. Upon learning of their escape, the CIA immediately went to work planning their extraction, but this case remained Top Secret until the late ’90s. Now, Affleck has decided to put this recently-opened document on the big screen. It’s a story so unbelievable that it has to be true.
Affleck plays a CIA operative with the most insane cover for rescuing the six Americans. His plan is to go to Iran as a Canadian movie producer scouting locations for an action-packed science fiction blockbuster, give the six fake passports and credentials, and quietly catch a flight home as a returning small film crew.
‘Argo’ is a perfect film in every way. Running two solid hours, the time flies right by. Co-stars John Goodman and Alan Arkin steal every scene they’re in. Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, Clea DuVall, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Titus Welliver and Michael Parks also make great side-characters, and the little-known actors that fill the rest of the film do fantastic jobs too. Affleck is great in front of the camera, but is even better behind it. Set in the late ’70s/early ’80s, the film’s visual style mirrors that of the movies of the period. Certain scenes sneak footage from the actual events into the movie, but you’ll only spot the if you notice the aspect ratio jumping around.
You’ve had 15 years to research these actual events, but if you’re still in dark about the details of this mission, keep it that way. I walked into ‘Argo’ knowing nothing about this CIA mission and found myself holding my breath at times and clinching my fists during others. The tension created within this picture made my heart noticeably beat outside my chest. The less you know about the true story, the better the experience you’ll have with ‘Argo’. Trust me, this is the type of moive that you can only see for the first time once, so make it count.