Release Year: 2012
Director: Ben Affleck
Screenwriters: Chris Terrio, Tony Mendez (Based on parts of his book “The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA”)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé
Rating: Won 3 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing. 4 Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing. Won 2 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director. 3 Golden Globes nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Screenplay, Best Score.
Under cover as a Hollywood producer scouting for locations, a CIA agent (Ben Affleck) launches a dangerous operation to retrieve six Americans hiding in Teheran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.
Ben affleck’s third directorial effort after the excellent Gone Baby Gone (2007) and equally great The Town (2010) lives up to the expectations that naturally follow when he is in the director’s seat. Argo is a riveting drama based on actual events, and even though a quick look at Wikipedia will give you the end result, Afflck’s assured direction keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. The choice to cast himself in the lead will be viewed as unwise by some, but Affleck (Gone Girl, 2014) takes the opportunity to remind us that he is not just a great director, but also a great actor when given great material to work with. There isn’t a single big name amongst the cast of actors playing the hostages, but they are all simply very good actors, and the tension, worry, and incredulity they feel when presented with the CIA’s ludicreous plan feels spot on. On the American end, Affleck is given great support by Bryan Cranston (Drive, 2011) as his boss, as well as the most charming pair of Hollywood insiders helping the plan along: John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, 1998) and Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine, 2006). The film wavers a bit between lighthearted comedy and intense drama, and seem to change gear towards the end, to end on the same serious and factual note it started on. Argo is a solid and well-made drama that is highly recommendable and makes us look forward even more to Mr. Affleck’s next directorial project.
In an interview, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter stated that he thought the film was an excellent drama and deserved to win the Oscar, but that it gave too much of the credit for the operation to the CIA when in fact about 90 percent of the work was done by the Canadian government.
Picture Copyright: Warner Bros.