Plot summary (from the studio): Based on real events, the dramatic thriller “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played—information that was not declassified until many years after the event.
Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck (“The Town,” “Good Will Hunting”) directs and stars in the film, which is produced by Oscar® nominee Grant Heslov (“Good Night, and Good Luck.”), Affleck, and Oscar® winner George Clooney (“Syriana”).
On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.
“Argo” also stars Bryan Cranston (TV’s “Breaking Bad”), Oscar® winner Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”), and John Goodman (“Trouble With the Curve”). The main cast also includes Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler and Chris Messina.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- There were some really good performances in this film. Affleck was better than expected, and Alan Arkin and John Goodman were both fantastic. It was fun watching these actors whenever they were on the screen — and I’m saying this as someone who’s not a big fan of any of these guys.
- The story is just amazing and naturally engrossing. Obviously since this film was based on actual events, most of the credit goes to the real-life players rather than the screenwriter, director, and actors, but still… It was easy to get caught up in what was happening, even though none of it was particularly suspenseful.
- Since I was already familiar with the story, I knew the successful outcome of the escape attempt long before the SwissAir plane left Iranian airspace. However, I was still hoping that the filmmakers could inject a bit of doubt/suspense/tension into the scenes. Sure, that might have meant taking some liberties with the actual events, but it would have made for a more exciting film. As it was, things just happened and I never got the sense that anyone was in any real danger.
- I understand that things from the book would inevitably have to be cut due to time constraints, but I was disappointed that virtually none of the forgery element was present in the movie. I thought the details of how Mendez and others from the CIA forged documents was one of the most interesting parts of the story, and yet it was completely missing from the film. Oh, well.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a heck of a lot going on in Argo. For a film billed as a thriller, there’s actually very little action or suspense in the story, which, in the hands of a less skilled director, might have made this a complete snoozefest. But Affleck somehow frames the tale in a compelling way that makes you want to watch despite the lack of typical Hollywood excitement. I give this film 4 stars out of 5.