Score : 95 / 100
Watchable Minutes: 120 / 120. Every minute is important for the context of the movie. There’s a ton of minor details and information to be gleaned to really understand the movie better.
Trailer Comparison : The trailer sells the movie very well. It’s got the same tone and lets the smaller moments of the movie take center stage. A quality trailer for a quality movie.
Movie or Film : Argo is a movie based on the real life events of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. There are some creative liberties taken to make it more movie-esque, but no real message was added in to be analyzed.
- Run time : 2 hrs
- Studio : Warner Bros.
- Director : Ben Affleck
- Where to Watch : HBO Max
At the start of the US Hostage Crisis, six Americans made a last minute escape to seek refuge with Canadian dignitaries. The CIA alone knows of their escape and begins to plan an daring rescue. Utilizing exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez, the CIA hopes to fly the six Americans out of Tehran under the guise of a film scouting trip. As the situation in Iran becomes increasingly volatile, it is a race against time to flee Iran before they are discovered.
Normally I don’t enjoy movies where the lead actor is also the director. I think that are far too many bad examples than good examples. I think Argo is an exception, and a great one at that. I really enjoyed the story and use of the source material. I consider myself to be a minor history buff but this is one time period in world history that I don’t really know a lot about. I feel that it was recent enough that the history books haven’t figured out the full extent of the long term ramifications of it and don’t really know how to teach it in school. The added secrecy of this operation not being publicly declassified until the late 90s also adds to the mystique of this whole fiasco.
Argo uses this mystique to dramatize the real life events to a near perfect level. Everything feels so grounded in reality and it lacks the usual Hollywood flair that most “based on a true event” movies have. There’s tension aplenty and conflict amongst the main cast of escapees which makes it seem all the more believable. Something I’ve recently noticed is that people love movies about making movies (i.e., Mank, Hail! Caesar, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, etc. ) and Argo is 50% action spy thriller and 50% a movie about making a movie. It’s an interesting combination and it’s mixed together very well. The comedic timing and self aware humor is spot on and still gets me to laugh almost 10 years after its release. It meshes very well with the tension in the other scenes and is used sparingly, to complement the rest of the movie.
As I said above, normally I don’t enjoy actor / director dual roles on movies. So far Ben Affleck is 2/3. The Town and Argo are both pretty good movies, while Live by Night… not so much. His performance as Tony Mendez was solid and very likeable. The character came off as very confident, but not arrogant. He knew he was the best exfil agent the CIA had, but didn’t revel in it. I enjoyed the addition of Bryan Cranston as well. He has a certain feeling about him that says “I’m in charge” that worked well with his character. Maybe that’s some leftovers from his time as Walter White, who knows. The rest of the cast did a great job as well, working together and felt like the chemistry was there when they were on screen. Nobody was overly dramatic or had an annoying personality. They looked scared and cautious, which really made their scenes feel believable.
The direction by Ben Affleck was solid enough to earn the movie Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars. I usually don’t care about movie awards, but I think that Argo definitely earned that one. It was a very well rounded movie and I think that Affleck’s direction behind the camera was a huge part of it. The overall movie looked nice as well, which I’m sure helped swing some votes. There didn’t seem to be the usual yellow haze over the movie either. Often times, movies set in the middle east get a muddy yellowish brown filter put over the top of them (movies in Europe also get a bluish grey filter as well for some reason). The only gripe I have about the look is some of the iffy CGI of the cars on the landing strip in the airport. Maybe it was practical, but I doubt it. Something about it just looked off. In the audio department, there didn’t seem to be any other option than to use the Stones and Led Zeppelin music. As a fan of Zeppelin, I can’t complain too much but the overall scoring felt a little dull.
Argo is a very strong 95 / 100 movie. The mystique of the declassification of the operation is an interesting ingredient, and when it’s coupled with the behind the scenes of Hollywood, it makes for a great movie.
If you like this, check out :
- Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
- The Nice Guys
- Hail! Caesar