365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

18Nov/120

Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck continues to hone as craft as a masterful director while also re-establishing himself as one of Hollywood's leading men on the screen. After some misfires (Pearl Harbor, Daredevil) and some downright flubs (Gigli, Surviving Christmas) during the early part of the decade, Affleck stepped to the other side of the camera for the first time and directed the critically acclaimed Gone Baby Gone. In 2010, he directed and starred in the stirring action-drama The Town. As great as both of those movies were, Affleck was not recognized for either one with an Academy Award nomination. That will change this year as Argo is destined for Best Picture and Best Director Academy Award nominations.

Based on the true story of a CIA operative named Tony Mendez (Affleck) who attempts to rescue six Americans who have found refuge in the neighboring Canadian embassy after the US embassy in Tehran is stormed by angry Iranian militants during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. Affleck does a fantastic job of telling the story leading up to the current situation. Long time Iranian ruler Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a man who had his lunches flown to him from Paris, France while hundreds of thousands of his people were going hungry everyday, is sick with terminal cancer and, much to the delight of most of Iran, he and his regime are overthrown by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. When Shah is allowed asylum to the United States in order to get treatment for his illness, the Iranian people are not happy and storm the United States Embassy to protest. There are 58 Americans working out of the Embassy. When it becomes apparent that Embassy is about to be overrun by the angry Iranians and their lives potentially in danger, it is decided that they will burn any and all documents in the building.

As the main Embassy building is being raided, the six Americans working out of the Visa office in the back of the compound quickly decide that they will kick all of those applying for Visas to the streets and  that they will follow them out. Their building is the only building on the grounds that has direct access to the back streets. The Americans know they have just minutes before they are surrounded by angry Iranian militants who are looking for any and every reason to physically hurt them. If they are found on the streets trying to escape from the Embassy, they most surely will be killed. The six make it to the Canadian Embassy where they are taken in as "house guests" by the only two people occupying the house, a middle-aged couple named Ken and Pat Taylor.

Meanwhile, Tony Mendes and his boss Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston - Drive, Larry Crowne) are brought in to the Department of the State to discuss possible ways to ex-filtrate the six Americans. The best suggestion that the department has come up with is having the six Americans bicycle their way 200 miles in the dead of winter to the nearest border. Mendes, while watching a Planet of the Apes movie that night, comes up with the idea of assembling a film crew to scout locations in different parts of the Middle East (including Iran) for an upcoming movie based on the script that he picked, Argo. This successfully puts Mendes in Iran which is where the fun starts.

This movie is thick with tension. I admit that I didn't know very much about this situation at all. Regardless of your level of knowledge about the particulars of the events, you'll be engrossed with the end product. If you don't know anything about the situation going into this movie, you won't need to. Affleck sets up everything perfectly for you. If you're a history junkie, I don't think you'll be saddled with numerous details and facts that you already know about. At two hours, it is the perfect length. It's hard for me to think of somebody who is over the age of about 25 who won't A) like this film and B) learn from this film. It is a fine piece of work that will definitely earn Affleck his first Academy Award for Best Director. It will also be a Best Picture nominee. It might even win.

Plot 10/10
Character Development 8.5/10
Character Chemistry 8.5/10
Acting 8.5/10
Screenplay 10/10
Directing  10/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 9/10
Hook and Reel 10/10
Universal Relevance 10/10
94.5%

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