With the tension between Iran and Israel omnipresent and the question of U.S. involvement looming, “Argo” will resonate in Americans’ minds because of the film’s historic parallel. “Argo” takes an event in the nation’s history, the Iranian hostage crisis of the late ’70s and early ’80s, and pairs it with superb acting, writing and directing to create a cinematic work that will stick in viewers’ minds.
The film is based on true events concerning CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) as he attempts to free six Americans who escaped from the 1979 invasion of the American Embassy in Iran and avoided capture. To free the six escapees, Mendez devises a plan to create a fake movie, titled “Argo,” complete with a real Hollywood crew to establish legitimacy. Using the film as a cover, Mendez then attempts to sneak into Iran as a location scout for his movie with the goal of slipping the six trapped Americans out to return them home. As Mendez moves forward with his risky plan, tension increases, as the likelihood of success continually lessens.
The cast is superb in its ability to stay true to many of the historical perspectives of the time period, such as the worldwide tension caused by the incident. Affleck shines as Mendez through his portrayal of such a determined character, making the intensity of what is already a gripping story increase. Additionally, Bryan Cranston, who plays fellow CIA operative Jack O’Donnell, stands out through a similar level of intensity that, when paired with Affleck, helps to drive the fast and furious pace of the film. John Goodman, as famed Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers, helps to provide surprising moments of comedy that viewers may not expect in a film with such a serious plot. Alan Arkin, as producer Lester Siegel, contributes additional comedy through his many quips that poke fun at Hollywood culture. Despite their abnormality, the breaks from the somber tone of the story help to further engage the audience.
Additionally, Chris Terrio’s script combines masterfully with Affleck’s direction to turn what could have easily been produced as a historical recounting of a true event into an action-filled cavalcade of suspense. The nonstop flow of the story helps make the two-hour film fly by.
Right from the start of “Argo,” the powerful acting combined with the enthralling script and direction ends up creating a satisfying film. Through its excellence, “Argo” promises to instill in audiences the same feelings of intense suspense that filled the hearts of the world when the people watched the real event occur 40 years ago.
Overall rating: 3 ½ stars
Ben Affleck directs and stars in this gripping film about the Iranian hostage crisis on the ’70s and ’80s.