Let’s talk details here because, from what I can tell, Ben Affleck has constructed a movie that is so entertaining, so dazzling in the way it makes drama, that there is no way it can possibly be from REAL events…could it? I mean, obviously the Iran hostage situation happened in the late 70’s, early 80’s and there WERE 52 hostages taken for almost 2 years. But the side story, and the one so skillfully crafted by director Ben Affleck, is that of 6 Americans who managed to escape capture and made it out of Iran by posing as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a Hollywood movie called “Argo.” It SOUNDS like a great work of fiction but…it’s not. It actually DID happen and the classified event was called the the “Canadian Caper.”
So now…how much of this movie is historically accurate? Well…I don’t know…but does it matter? In this case, I don’t think it does. But with the amount of detail that Affleck went through to recreate the time period, a lot of the script certainly SEEMS true to actual events. So with that being said…I have to say that “Argo” might be one of the best political dramas I have ever seen! Taking the actual event and adding in some Hollywood drama makes this movie move at a steady clip and with a slew of great actors, some excellent costume design and skillful directing by Affleck, I have to imagine it will be a front-runner for some awards come Oscar time.
The basis of the story is from the man who created the mission. Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck) was a CIA agent who’s primary responsibility was to get hostages out of life-threatening situations. His covert mission in this case had him creating a “film crew” out of the 6 Americans who were looking to escape Iran. With the help of some Hollywood types, makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegal (Alan Arkin), he constructs a fake film in order to set up the Iranians into thinking that their location scout in Iran is legit. From there, it’s a matter of getting the Iranian government to support the movie and release the “crew” so that they can go back to Canada.
First let me just say that Affleck has done a masterful job with this film, as a director AND as an actor. His eye for duplicating the time period is amazing, from the credit fonts to the corded phones to the cigarette smoke in every office. Everything feels authentic and that goes a long way to helping tell the story. As an actor, he plays Mendez as a quiet and unassuming man, blending him in with his beard and hound dog eyes, making him seem distant even in moments when he has to be close to someone. I don’t know if I’d go so far to say that this is Affleck’s best movie as far as his acting goes, but it’s pretty darn close!
And the rest of the cast is excellent as well. The 6 actors picked to play the 6 hostages almost look exactly like the real people! They all do a great job making their plight seem confusing and uncertain. Although they have very small roles, Arkin and Goodman almost steal the movie, acting as the comic relief in some very intense scenes. It’s in those intense scenes that I imagine Affleck has taken some liberties with the true story, adding in some Hollywood drama to bring it to a more exciting climax, but that’s what movies do…they entertain us. And if they can educate us a little bit along the way? More power to it.
Overall Rating: A