Reckless Review: ARGO

The thing about Argo is that we already know how it ends. In 1980, CIA operative Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck) managed to “ex-filtrate” the six Americans who escaped to the Canadian ambassador’s house when Iranian revolutionaries took over the US embassy in Tehran. But I forgot all about that, and judging from the reactions of others in the audience, so did everyone else. This film immerses you in suspense.

Table read…or briefing session? Mendez/Affleck coaches his “cast” in a scene reminiscent of the film’s earlier table read of the fake film they’re supposed to be making, also named ARGO. It’ll make sense when you see it.

As I noted in one of my past posts, I liked the trailer for Argo, maybe because it reminded a bit of The Town, one of my favorite heist pictures ever, also directed by Affleck. The director doesn’t disappoint, ratcheting the tension up exponentially. It could have been a bit too tense, but Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio break the mood with some very funny moments at Hollywood’s expense. The lighter, satirical scenes with John Goodman and Alan Arkin in the movie capital do more than just relieve almost unbearable stress. These scenes – actually the whole movie – are a meditation on the nature of espionage, movies, and storytelling. It begins with a brief history of Iran and the causes of the 1980 revolution. Instead of the usual text on a blank background, or a newsreel-style montage, Argo‘s introduction is a series of animated story boards. Then, of course, there are the fake identities and backstories the diplomats take on to pull off their own rescue. If they can act convincingly enough, they’ll live. At the risk of saying too much, this film shows that the key to being a good spy and the key to making a good movie are one and the same — having the ability to tell to a good story.

PS: I highly recommend reading this excellent Entertainment Weekly interview with Affleck and Mendez if you haven’t already. Among other things, I found out that the Argo story is just one chapter in the CIA agent’s fascinating life. Hoping Hollywood will call on him again.

13 thoughts on “Reckless Review: ARGO

  1. Hey, glad you saw this one girl! I LOVE this film and fortunately I didn’t know much about the real story until after, so it was quite a suspense for me up until the very end. So far Affleck hasn’t disappointed me in his directing job, he’s always got a great cast in his films too!

    1. Oh cool! It’s even better if you don’t know how it ends I bet. i know, I think Affleck may be a genius and will get at least a nomination at Oscar time. Thanks for stopping by, Ruth 🙂

      1. Yeah, I hope Affleck would get at least a Best Director nod. Not sure if he’s ever gotten that before, I think he’s only won an Oscar for screenwriting (Good Will Hunting).

        1. Good memory Ruth, he’s got one Oscar & it’s for writing Good Will Hunting. He got a bunch of nominations for other directing awards for Gone Baby Gone and The Town, but none from the Academy. So maybe this is his year.

  2. I loved this movie so much. I knew I was hooked when they ran the 70s Warner Brothers ident to open the movie. If you want to make a good movie, it should be a little personal, and it’s so obvious that Affleck grew up in the late 70s/early 80s. He captured the era perfectly.

    1. I agree…all the little details…phones, eyeglasses, clocks, items on desks…were amazing. It’s still excellent if you are older or younger but it’s a richer experience if you remember it firsthand. Thanks for stopping by, John!

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