By CARSON JENKINS,
In 1979, Iranian militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Iran, holding more than 50 staff members hostage. Six Americans escaped amid the chaos, finding refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. This set the stage for “Argo,” the latest film from director Ben Affleck. Released in October, “Argo” is based on the true story of the unconventional rescue of these six individuals trapped in hostile territory.
“Argo” follows Tony Mendez (played by Affleck), an extraction consultant for the CIA. With the help of Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Mendez puts together an ambitious plan: go into Iran under the guise of location scouting for the fake science fantasy film “Argo.” Acting as the film’s producer, Mendez would then smuggle the six stranded Americans out of the country as a Canadian film crew. Academy Award-winning make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and the fictional Lester Siegel, a Hollywood big-shot played by Alan Arkin, are two of the many well-acted characters who aid Mendez in this mission. The pacing of the film is evenly distributed between the politics of the CIA, the lighthearted glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and the high-stakes espionage within the borders of Iran.
While there are some minor historical inaccuracies, as well as events that are added or removed so as to make for heightened suspense and entertainment, “Argo” stands out as a faithful portrayal of the Canadian Caper. Well-executed uses of archival footage, songs by the Rolling Stones and Dire Straits and a plethora of mustaches and sideburns all help give “Argo” a period feel. I was particularly impressed with the re-creation of many iconic images and moments within the film. The star-studded cast of “Argo” shines the whole way through, with stellar performances from everyone involved that definitely elevate the film’s quality. The Middle Eastern themed score by Alexandre Desplat is also fantastic.
“Argo” was one of my favorite movies of 2012, and it kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Affleck’s dedication to the material and attention to detail make this film a must see.