Written by Christian Lees
“Argo” is a dramatic thriller directed by Ben Affleck and based on a true story. The film tells the story of the Iranian hostage crisis, where 52 American citizens working at the American embassy in Tehran were taken hostage for 444 days, starting on November 4, 1979. In the process of an Iranian mob taking over the embassy, six American workers were able to escape the embassy. They take shelter in the house of the Canadian ambassador to Iran, but they cannot leave the house. The CIA must concoct a plan to rescue these six people without the Iranians finding them.
Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) enters the scene. He is a professional “exfiltrator,” someone who gets people out of places. Mendez comes up with an idea: Pretend they are scouting locations for a movie and give the Americans fake passports to get out. The fake movie they use as a cover is called Argo, a Star Wars knock-off. With the help of Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman), the fake movie is brought to life. However, will Iranian immigration believe the story and let them leave?
The fact that this film is based on a real set of events in American history makes the story seem almost like a true reenactment of events. Affleck took the screenplay, written by Chris Terrio, and ran with it. The actors’ expressions felt real, and the casting of the film could not be any more perfect. During the end credits, photos of the real people involved in the situation were shown compared to the actors who played them, and the depictions were absolutely spot on.
Ben Affleck also did a terrific job in setting the era of this film. From the soundtrack, to the locations, to the clothes and hairstyles, this movie is definitely set in the late 70s. Short, establishing wide shots of locations, such as Hollywood, Istanbul, and Tehran, set the tone and time period for the film, while shaky camera work showed the urgency of certain situations. Even in the midst of a serious story, subtle humor in CIA boardrooms and Hollywood locations made the actors even more real.
While crafting a film around a serious situation like the Iranian hostage crisis, Affleck manages to include both humor and some incredibly tense situations. The movie is thrilling, and realizing that it is a true story makes the ending even more gratifying. “Argo” is definitely one of the best movies of the year. 4 ½ out of 5 stars.