Argo is a movie that go away from me. I remember it winning the best picture award and thinking to myself, “I’ll check that one out soon.” Well, apparently four years has passed and I finally got around to “soon.” I’d probably would have watched it sooner had I known John Goodman was in it as I’m quite fond of him. I’m noticing an interesting “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” thing happening with movies I’m watching where many of the actors are popping up and creating an odd chain of inter-connectivity. Anyways, I digress, I enjoyed Argo, but I wouldn’t put it as a must see as it’s just Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy.
In 1980, the US embassy in Iran is attacked and all but six of the people in the embassy are taken hostage. The six that managed to escape seek refuge in the Canadian Embassy and the US government is trying to figure a way to smuggle them out of Iran as soon as possible. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is a CIA agent who comes up with the idea of posing the six as a Canadian film crew on a location scouting assignment for their new science fiction film.
There are so many great names in this film starting with Affleck, Goodman, Brian Cranston, Alan Arkin, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, Scott McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler and Titus Welliver among others. Affleck was the dominant figure in the film giving a great performance and having some amazing chemistry with Cranston, Goodman, and Arkin. The interaction between these characters is easily my favorite in the film. Affleck is a believable hero in a very nontraditional sense. No weapons, no fighting, just using his intelligence and charisma to work through a very tough situation and he nails it.
My favorite scene in the film is the first meeting of John Chambers (Goodman) and Mendez. Chambers is working as a prosthetic artist for a cheesy monster movie when he is called on set to fix the Minotaur’s make up. A PA says that the Minotaur says he can’t act because the makeup is too tight, to which Chambers responds, “If he could act he wouldn’t be the Minotaur.” Not long after Mendez arrives and the planning begins. Goodman’s charm is strong in this film and it really makes for some memorable moments.
This film is based on a true story that was classified until President Bill Clinton declassified it and the story became public. The event in Iran took place two years before I was born so it was interesting hearing this story. The opening epilogue really caught my interest and I was curious to see how it would play out.
However, if this isn’t a must see there has to be a reason and it’s the unnecessary tension building moments towards the end of the film. Without giving away exactly what happens, although it’s fairly predictable, the premise of the film implies tension. There is a lot of it that happens organically and those moments are fine. However, there are little things like a car not starting as quickly as it needs to, phones not being answer in a timely fashion, and things like that just feel too much like a movie and less like the story its telling. It’s not a big deal, but enough that I was more irritated that it was happening than I was worried for the characters.
That said, I was on the fence where to place this movie. How many movies are must see? Does a best picture win make a film must see? I definitely think this film is worth your time and I would recommend it.