Opening in theatres this week from director Ben Affleck, GK Films and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the highly anticipated thriller based on the true story of ARGO.
This film tells the story of 1974 and the Iranian take over of the American Embassy. There were 52 Americans taken hostage but six Americans managed to escape. They are Bob Anders (Tate Donovan), Mark Lijek (Christopher Denham) and his wife Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall), Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy), his wife Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bische), and finally Lee Schatz (Rory Cochrane).
Taking refuge in the Canadian Embassy with Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), the US Government tries to figure out how this should be handled. Those in charge include Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), Hamilton Jordan (Kyle Chandler), Robert Pender (Zeljko Ivanek and Bates (Titus Welliver).
That is when Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), comes up with an idea created only in Hollywood. The government creates a studio, script and hire actors to give the illusion of the blockbuster picture ARGO that is to be made. Mendez creates identifies for the six Americans as scouts looking for a place in Iran to shoot the film.
With the help of director Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and special effects creator John Chambers (John Goodman) the stage is set for a rescue like no other. Time is running out, as the Iranian guard will soon realize the number of embassy workers doesn’t add up!
FINAL WORD: Affleck as Mendez is so very low key its kind of a little off putting. Here is a man who comes up with the most ridiculous idea ever conceived yet believes in it so much. Affleck puts that on screen without over acting or outshining the story. He seemed to know exactly the look he was after and found it, making ARGO look flawlessly made.
Arkin is absolutely amazing in the role of director Siegel. Not only did does he play the ridiculousness of the idea but goes with the flow beautifully. The wit is sharp and cutting, absolutely fitting in to the film with his presence. Again, he did not outshine the story but instead added just the right amount of sarcasm one would expect from a Hollywood director.
Goodman’s role also isn’t a big one but he melds into the act very well. His scenes with Arkin are calm, cool and relaxed whereas I don’t think I know many who would be under those strenuous circumstances. Just plain well done.
The film is based on a selection of parts to the book “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired Magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman.
The film is shot beautifully and the look is authentic to the time. The surroundings and detail that Affleck has taken to tell this story just adds even more beauty for everyone who, I know, is going to enjoy this film. He takes us on a ride from Iran to Washington to Hollywood and back again never letting on how the whole story will play out.
Other cast include: Chris Messina as Malinov, Keith Szarabajka as Adam Engell, Bob Gunton as Cyrus Vance, Richard Kind as Max Klein, Omid Abtahi as Reza Borhani, Page Leong as Pat Taylor, and Sheila Vand as Sahar.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give ARGO four tubs of popcorn out of five. This really is a riveting storytelling watching the acts unfold into each other. The drama and suspense is really gripping as director Affleck builds the tension to a pitch that catches people leaning up off their seats.
The story itself is compelling and a tale of international cooperation that almost wasn’t. It is hard to describe the emotions of most Americans during that time and Affleck manages to capture it very well.
There is even humor if you can believe that with all the tension the film has to offer. The casting is impeccable and I suspect this film will be getting its share of nominations come the award season.
In the end – lights, camera, rescue!