This past weekend I saw Argo, directed by and starring Ben Affleck (also in The Town and Daredevil). As an Affleck fan, I entered the theater with high expectations. It was fairly reasonable to have these expectations; I believe that they were completely met.
The plot of Argo centers around six Americans who escaped the American Embassy in Iran during a riot and needed to be brought back safely to the United States. Although these six had managed to escape, many more American Embassy workers were held in the Iranian Hostage Crisis. To leave Iran without suspicion, the six escapees claim to be making a sci-fi movie called Argo. CIA officer Tony Mendez (Affleck) and the escapees pretend they are from Canada and a part of the film crew, who are scouting for filming locations in the Middle East, specifically various landmarks in Iran. Overall, the movie was well cast (the list also includes Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Victor Garber, among other big names) and very well directed (Argo is Affleck’s fifth movie as a director).
Argo opens with a brief narration about the current (current being the year 1979) ruler of Iran, and the riot that is taking place outside of the American Embassy. The movie was fast-paced – with emotions running high – and intense from beginning to end. From the very beginning, the crisis is clear, and the acting throughout was exceptional and only improved.
Tony Mendez goes to Iran to collect the escapees, giving them their identities and convincing them that he can get them out of the country if they trust him, despite the odds that are constantly stacking against them. Although there are occasional humorous moments scattered throughout the movie, the audience is never allowed to forget the severity of the situation, and the work that is being done to save the lives of both the escapees and the hostages who are still within the American Embassy.
Throughout the movie, there are parallels shown between what is simultaneously happening in Iran and in America. One of the best examples is during a reading of the fake movie at a convention in America, when at the same time chaos in Iran is spreading, and the escapees are growing more and more restless with every passing day. This particular scene creates sympathy for the efforts made to get the escapees out of Iran safely, and allows the audience to feel a portion of the panic felt in the escapees and Tony Mendez.
The movie was spectacular and the story was inspirational; Affleck outdid himself in the directing of and acting in this important historical story. I applaud the performance of all those involved, and highly recommend that everyone see this movie.