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During the Iranian revolution in 1979, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. Six manage to get away and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador, but the solution is temporary because they know as soon as the militants figure out where they are, they'll be killed.CIA "exfiltration" specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country.Based on the true story of the rescue operation by Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor after the Canadian Parliament passed special legislation allowing Canadian passports to be issued to the Americans to help them escape.
ARGO is one terrific movie, the best I’ve seen all year. The screenplay by Chris Terrio dramatizes events of late 1979, when six Americans hid out in the Canadian ambassador’s residence in Tehran, and counterbalances it with absurdly funny—and unexpectedly relevant—goings-on in Hollywood. Director and star Ben Affleck brings credence to each environment he depicts: the tumultuous world of revolution-torn Iran, the political give-and-take of Washington bureaucracy, and the casually crass atmosphere of Hollywood. Affleck also plays the CIA agent who takes on the task of spiriting the Americans out of Tehran, using a bogus Hollywood movie production as his cover story. John Goodman plays real-life makeup artist John Chambers who, it turns out, was an undercover operative for the CIA; he is perfectly matched by Alan Arkin as a cynical, past-his-prime producer who helps create the subterfuge of a movie being made.ARGO plays beautifully because it never seems phony. The tension in Tehran is palpably real from the moment the film begins, with violence an ever-present threat. The six Americans aren’t noble or one-dimensional: they are all too human, and we share their well-founded fear.In sharp contrast, the scenes involving Goodman and Arkin are ribald and laugh-out-loud funny. You couldn’t ask for two more expert actors to play these jaded movie veterans.Argo is proof that Hollywood can still make a crowd-pleasing movie that’s smart, funny, and relevant all at once. To which I can only add, Bravo! [EDITED]
If there was any doubt Ben Affleck has turned into an exceptional director, his wildly entertaining, pulse-pounding thriller ARGO will handily erase those thoughts. The incredibly true story of a CIA operative who hatches a plan to create a fake Hollywood movie in order to smuggle six American hostages out of Tehran during the 444-day Iranian crisis in 1979 will be a solid contender on the awards circuit and is a certain “Best Picture” Oscar candidate.Falling under the "It sounds too far-fetched to be true" rule of Hollywood filmmaking, Mendez (Affleck) enlists the help and expertise of Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) who in turn brings in a Rolls Royce-driving Hollywood producer named Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) who makes a deal to acquire a real Star Wars-style rip-off called "Argo," even going to the extreme of announcing the project in a Variety ad and article. "If I am going to be making a fake movie, I want to have a fake hit," says Lester, played to amusing perfection by Arkin.Affleck plays Mendez with just the right amount of authority, and has cast his film with a top notch ensemble including fine turns by Alan Arkin, John Goodman and a terrific Bryan Cranston as his CIA superior. Everything is first rate including spot-on production and costume design and excellent cinematography from Rodrigo Prieto. No question: “the movie-within-the-movie” is fake, but the resulting picture is the real deal.Director/co-producer and star Affleck, a man of wide-ranging ability and talent, has fashioned a box office winner. [EDITED]
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