Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Argo Film Review

One of the most talked about movies this awards season was Argo.  Unsurprisingly it won an amazing amount of accolades including:

BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Best Direction and Best Editing.
Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture- Drama and Best Director – Motion Picture.
Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Editing and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.

The official synopsis of the film is: “Based on true events, Warner Bros. Pictures' and GK Films' dramatic thriller "Argo" chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis—the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.”

When I was sent a copy of Argo to review, I was not entirely sure that I would enjoy this film as the subject of  the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979  failed to fill be with much enthusiasm. Thankfully however, I was so very wrong! I loved it.

Ben Affleck, Iranian Hostage Crisis

The film, based on a declassified true story, follows Tony Mendez (Affleck), an exfiltration expert working for the CIA, as he garners a plan to rescue six Americans who manage to escape from the US Embassy in Tehran after Iranian militants storm the building and take everyone hostage.  They take shelter with the Canadian Ambasssador who keeps them hidden.  They know that it is just a matter of time before the militants realise they are missing, track them down and kill them.

Mendez comes up with an incredible plan to rescue the six.  He teams up with a Hollywood make-up artist (played by the brilliant John Goodman) and a Hollywood film producer (equally brilliantly played by Alan Arkin) to create a fake film company.  They get a script, Hollywood real estate and put in motion the production of a Sci-Fi blockbuster called Argo. Posing as a Canadian film crew on a location scouting mission, Mendez plans to rescue the six Americans and fly them out of Tehran right under the noses of the Iranians.  It is a spectacular plan that would seem unbelievable, had it not really happened!

The film includes lots of  footage of  the actual hostage crisis, giving a real feeling of the era and the enormity of the situation.  There is a great deal of dry humour interjected into the film delivered mainly by Goodman and Arkin, but it does not distract from the seriousness of the plot at all.  In fact it adds another dimension which I think transcends this movie into something far beyond just another political thriller.  It is suspenseful and had me on the edge of my seat as the plan encounters problem after problem.  The sense of realism and urgency is palpable.  It is such a compelling story, and knowing that it is based on a real rescue mission makes it all the more exciting.

The credits of the film give the viewer an insight into the reality of the crisis, as we are shown real photos of the people involved and actual images of key moments.  Affleck certainly delivered a film that was true to the  spirit of the original story both visually and in the storytelling itself.  Tony Mendez is portrayed as the unassuming hero, a guy simply doing his job, who put his life on the line to save six lives against all the odds. Inspirational stuff.

Argo is available to buy now at all good retailers on DVD and Blu-Ray.


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