Argo is a terrifically entertaining and engaging film drawn from the real experiences of former CIA agent Tony Mendez and his attempt to rescue six Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis that took place in 1979.
As fifty two Americans were taken hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran, six others managed to slip away unnoticed and were able to secretly take refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador.
Mendez (Affleck) was charged with the task of entering a very hostile and anti-American Tehran to rescue these six American citizens under a most original, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction cover story.
Mendez concocted a plan to rescue the six Americans by posing as a film producer scouting for locations to shoot a phony science fiction B-Movie entitled, ‘Argo.’
Directed by, starring, and produced by Ben Affleck, Argo is consistently entertaining and suspenseful thanks in large part to many of its actors’ performances. Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman excelled in their portrayals as Mendez’s primary co-conspirators attempting to free the six Americans from their life-or-death situation.
Arkin, in particular, was a profane riot as Hollywood film producer Lester Siegel. His portrayal added a sense of ‘gallows’ humor’ to the film and afforded a nice balance to the seriousness of the rescue attempt.
Affleck, in his direction, was sure-handed and obviously spent a great deal of effort recreating the look, tone, feeling of the locations themselves and the late 1970’s political climate. His performance as Mendez was understated and well crafted.
Affleck had considerable chemistry with co-star Bryan Cranston and benefitted again as an actor in films in which he also served as the film’s director. The Town (2010) is another example of Affleck’s smart marriage of character and actor in a film which he directed.
Other than the performance of Clea DuVall as Cora Lijek (one of the six Americans stuck in Iran) the female characters were blandly portrayed and seemed less developed than their male counterparts. Scoot McNairy as fellow embassy employee Joe Stafford also created a nuanced and smart performance in his role.
Argo is a smartly written, suspenseful, and highly entertaining story about a group of people faced with a situation so dangerous and absurd… it could only have happened in real life. Ben Affleck hit the bullseye for the second straight film as a director and is an exciting talent to watch as he has continued to develop and mature as a film maker.