‘Argo’ is a thrilling, nail-biting film that will keep you fully entertained with its captivating storyline and nearly perfect production. This political thriller is able to captivate the audience, by injecting dry humor, some mild action and focusing on the task at hand without getting too politically confusing. I think director Ben Affleck did a fantastic job giving the film the exact feel for the time it is set in, late70’s early 80’s; everything from the shots, to the outfits, cars, colors and even music, blend in masterfully to deliver what I would call one of the best dramas of the year.
Based on a true story, when the Iranian revolution reached its peak six Americans escape an attack on the American Embassyn in Tehran and take shelter at the home of Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), the Canadian Ambassador’s house. CIA exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a wacky plan to try to get the Americans back home. With the help and support of Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and John Chambers (John Goodman), he ventures into a mission that made history.
The film gives a concise background on some of the facts of the story without getting too profound or complicated; it explains it all in a very original way. There are different uses of camera work, from areal shots to hand held cameras, and although it gets dizzying at points it makes it all the more believable and real, as the shots look like the original revolt. This movie succeeds in getting the audience inside the story and even though it doesn’t try hard at making a connection with the characters, since it only gives vital information, it manages to create a bond regardless.
I can’t recall the last time I was so tense watching a movie, it is so nerve wracking at times that you easily feel scared and nervous for the characters, because that’s how engrossing the story gets. Affleck effortlessly portrays the most levelheaded character in the film, being able to control every situation without seeming mechanical. He gives a solid performance even using body language, to explain what he’s feeling or thinking. I’m happy to say that Cranston finally was given a character worthy of his acting skills, something I’ve only had the opportunity of seeing in his TV show ‘Breaking Bad’; here he’s the actor I’ve come to admire. Arkin and Goodman give us the comedic relief that helps with the tension created by other parts of the film and it’s done in the subtlest way without taking importance from the rest of the movie. Part of this comedy also comes from the film mocking governmental entities as well as even the director himself. The locations, sets, wardrobes, cars, etc., help give the film authenticity, which is another key element to its success.
There are some scenes that add to the already felt tension of the film, which make them a little too fictional or planned which can take away a bit of the realistic aim of the film. Also, although I think it works that we don’t get much of an inside on the lives of the characters, except for vital pieces and very few personal conversations; a little more could have been given to add to the connection the audience has with the six Americans in Iran as well as with Affleck’s character.
This movie has the ability to literally keep you at the edge of your seat, providing some of the most intense, nail-biting scenes I’ve ever experienced in a movie theater. Scriptwriter Chris Terrio gave such a solid compact story that Affleck was able to create a class A film, with some help from producer Grant Heslov and George Clooney. You truly feel like a part of the film, so much so that at points you want to elbow some of the characters for their actions. The film gives an inside look into a story that was classified until 1997 and that many people might remember living it. Having been part of history some may already know the outcome of the film, either way it’s all about the top-secret intense journey it takes us on.