Friday, November 16, 2012



In short, Argo is a suspense-
filled, slam dunk winner based
on the rescue mission of six
American diplomats during the
1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis.

Directed by and starring Ben Affleck as former CIA operative Tony Mendez, the film is factual enough to offer a credible account of the historic event, yet embellishes just enough to make for a start-to-finish thriller — one that is generating considerable Oscar buzz.

Affleck as CIA agent Mendez crossing Iranian border.

On November 4, 1979, the American Embassy in Tehran was seized by a group of militants. 52 Americans were taken hostage and would be held captive for 444 days. However, six American diplomats escaped  — taking refuge at the  home of the Canadian ambassador.

CIA specialist Mendez is brought in to propose a rescue mission. His "best bad plan" is the production of a (fake) sci-fi film entitled, Argo. In cooperation with the Canadian government and selected Hollywood insiders, Mendez' covert operation begins to play out as a bogus L.A. production office is set up, phony press conferences are staged and huge ads begin appearing in the trades — all promoting the non-existent film. Upon establishing Argo's credibility, Mendez swoops into Iran (forged passports in hand) under the premise of scouting exotic sites for the movie. The ultimate plan is to sneak the six diplomats out of Iran and back to the U.S. as part of the Argo production team. Simple, right?

Goodman, Arkin and Affleck in Argo.

Much attention was paid to detail in re-creating the '70s look and vibe for Argo. Era-specific wardrobe, video clips and soundtrack made for an authentic production — although The Rolling Stones' "Little T&A" was not released until months after the rescue mission.

In addition to Affleck's Oscar-worthy portrayal of Mendez, Alan Arkin as Argo director Lester Siegel, John Goodman as legendary Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers and Bryan Cranston  as  CIA supervisor Jack O'Donnell all deliver rock-star caliber performances.

In sum, believe the hype. Argo is a riveting, two-hour must-see. In a year that delivered such content as Rock of Ages, Ted, and  The Watch, Argo is without question, one of 2012's best films.

-Christopher Long
(November 2012)

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