Reviewed on 2013 February 27
I don’t really watch the Oscars® any more. I know that’s an odd admission from a film buff, but the spectacle doesn’t interest me as much since now we seldom see things like crazy stars attempting to wear floral displays and produce nets as dresses. I do check on the winners the next day, and when I heard Argo got Best Picture, I coughed up my money and rented it. Good call. Good movie.
When the U.S. Embassy in Iran fell, six citizens escaped and were sequestered by the Canadian Embassy. The CIA, scrabbling for ideas to get the Americans out of there, comes up with a certifiable these-are-not-the-droids-you-are-looking-for plan. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck, who also directed), a guy who specializes in extracting people from messes like this, will bootleg the U.S. citizens out of there by giving them Canadian passports and claiming they’re part of a film crew.
In order to say these people are just scouting movie locations, they need an effective cover, preferably anchored to somthing that will never see the light of day. They find a suitable piece of sci-fi cheese titled “Argo”; and when it’s described as taking place in a vaguely Middle Eastern setting, they decide it’s the perfect vehicle. They have the plan, and they have the support of Canada. The problem is they have to sell it to the Iranian hard-liners as well as the U.S. press machine.
This is based on a true story. I know there are lots of liberties taken any time Hollywood gets its hands on something, but the fact that this was made — something from Hollywood that poked a little fun at itself and didn’t make the U.S. to be knuckle-dragging imperialist warlords — is remarkable. Affleck was a better director than actor here. The pacing of the movie was great, and the soundtrack selection of late ’70s / early ’80s stuff was inspired. I realize the movie glossed over the role Canada played in assisting us, and I’m glad Affleck gave them accolades at the end. The acting and script are tight, and it is entertaining to see a fake movie given more attention to detail than a lot of the stuff that gets released nowadays.
Three chocolate morsels. Very good, and downright riveting at the end. If you like this, read “Guests of the Ayatollah”.