Thursday, April 4, 2013

Argo



I usually don't see the "Best Picture" winner, and when I do it's usually not until after its theatrical release. Almost every time I find the film to be entertaining, but not necessarily worthy of the mantle. It's somewhat telling that most of them end up on Netflix for instant streaming a few months after their release. Also, rated R films usually don't strike my curiosity, but since the only reason this film's R-rating is because of a few uses of the "F-word" (much like former Best Picture winner, "The King's Speech"), I decided to give this one a try. While I don't think "Argo" was my favorite film of last year, it definitely deserved its statuette in my opinion.
"Argo" is the story of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, where the American embassy is overrun and only 6 people manage to escape to the Canadian ambassador's house. Struggling to determine an acceptable means of rescue for the stranded diplomats, the CIA brings in Tony Mendez, who has had success from similar situations. Given the civil unrest in Iran, however, the only suitable option Mendez can come up with isn't exactly what the CIA had in mind. With the success of the recent "Star Wars", sci-fi films have become a hot commodity, giving Mendez the idea to create a fake Star Wars rip-off called "Argo" that requires location shooting in Iran.
This movie is full of suspense, which isn't something I usually say about stories based on true events. Ben Affleck, both the star and director of "Argo", does a terrific job recreating historic footage of the riots taking place in that time period. The fear is palpable every time the crowds are depicted on screen, particularly when the van of stranded Americans has to somehow make its way through a massive and violent protest.
The acting in this film is uniformly terrific, particularly from supporting players such as Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Bryan Cranston. Each aspect of the film is equally enjoyable, whether it's producers discussing how the fake movie will be funded, or behind-the-scenes conversations of CIA operatives debating the enormous risks of the mission. Despite the entertaining quality of the film, it also manages to educate its audience on a period of history that I personally wasn't very aware of.
"Argo" is incredibly intense from beginning to end, and is certainly one of the best films released in 2012. It's quite a shame that Affleck wasn't nominated for Best Director at the 2013 Academy Awards (see my predictions), but the film's success makes up for this unfortunate snub. I give "Argo" four stars.
ARGO is rated R for language and some violent images