Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall
Directed by Ben Affleck
Run Time: 120 mins
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
Opens October 12th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
One of the new releases this week is the thriller “Argo”. Based on a true, declassified story, Director Ben Affleck was nominated and placed 2nd at the Toronto International Film Festival for the People’s Choice Award.
In November 4, 1979, as part of an Anti-American street demonstration, radical students overtook the United States Embassy in Tehran,Iran; scaling the wall and holding hostage more than 50 Americans. This was in response to the United Stated allowing the former dictator ruler of Iran, Shah Reza Pahlavi, to enter the states to obtain medical treatment for cancer. Ayatollah Ruholla Khomenini took over power in Iran when the Shah fled the country and called for Anti-American street demonstrations after the Shah entered the U.S.
Fortunately, amidst the chaos, 6 Americans were able to escape before capture and eventually found refuge at the home of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). The Americans that were able to make it out were Consular Officer Bob Anders (Tate Donovan), Mark Lijek (Christopher Denham) and Joe Stafford(Scoot McNairy); Consular Assistants Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall), Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bishe) and Agriculture Attache Lee Schatz (Rory Cochrane).
When news of the 6 Americans reached the State Department, it was then handed over to the C.I.A to figure out an extradition plan. C.I.A. Agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), expert in exfiltration and disguise, was brought in to figure out a plan to bring the 6 home. Ideas tossed around ranged from giving them bicycles to ride to the border of Iran; posing as teachers even though the school shut down almost a year before, or posing as a group to feed the hungry. The “best bad idea” that ended up sticking was proposed by Mendez, as posing as a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a Sci-Fi B-Movie, “Argo”; then fly them out of Iran under their “Hollywood identities”. Mendez, given the “greenlight”, flew to Los Angeles and enlisted the help of veteran make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) to create a fake production company and movie to present to the public, trades and international press as cover to extradite the six Americans.
As the plan was in the process of execution overseas, Mendez found himself facing many obstacles; not only with the Americans he was trying to extradite, but also with the Iranian Military and his own superiors. Will Mendez succeed in his mission or risk becoming a hostage himself?
For someone who wasn't alive when this happened or is not familiar with the events of the Iran Hostage Crisis, this film was presented almost like a history lesson and very eerily similar to today’s headlines. What this film does exceptionally well is tell a true story that stays as non political as possible. To date, this is Ben Affleck's best film as a director and actor. The amount of attention to detail was meticulous; from the research, the costumes, sets, locations and technology, everything appears spot on. The way that the actual footage and newsreels from the era flow with the fictional storyline is like a seamless symphony of cinematic excellence. This is a must see film as it is gripping engrossing, taking the viewer on a high stakes race that keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat right up until the very end. The best part is that it is a true story. I can easily see this nominated for several awards, including Best Picture. Check out Argo when it opens in theaters nationwide starting Friday October 21, 2012.