Nov 5, 2012

[Movies] Argo (2012)

By the time this review finally posts, the Kickstarter for Science Fiction Land, a documentary feature about the sci-fi movie that was used in the story depicted in Argo, will be over. As I write this entry they're less than $9,000 to go before reaching their Kickstarter goal and I sincerely hope they make it. Good news! They achieved their Kickstarter goal of $50,000!

Oddly enough, I heard of the Kickstarter project before I had heard about the movie. And I don't regret things one bit given how much I enjoyed Argo and thus today's review. It's certainly one of those amazing stories that absolutely deserve to be told but of course for security reasons has remained under wraps for many years. But now that those restrictions have been lifted, we all get to learn more about just how amazing this particular rescue was.

This movie really goes a long way towards proving the age-old adage of how the truth can be stranger than fiction. It seems almost unreal to consider that something like this could have actually happened - and yet it did. And that's the real magic of this piece. And how the story was told in a way that still paid respect to all the efforts that went into the actual operation really help this story shine.

Synopsis: Argo is the 2012 dramatic thriller based on the events of a CIA extraction mission during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. It was directed by Ben Affleck with a screenplay by Chris Terrio. The movie was co-produced by Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who has previously worked on a 1981 TV movie based around the same events.

It is November 1979 and Iranian militants storm the American embassy in Tehran. The staff are then taken hostage as the militants demand for the return of the recently deposed Shah, who has sought political assylum in the US. But in the chaos, 6 embassy staff manage to escape and are eventually taken in by the Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). The State Department then starts to consider ways to "exfiltrate" them from Iran in secret before the militants piece together the shredded embassy documents and realize some of the staff were missing.

Thus we meet Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA specialist who has extensive experience in such exfiltration missions. And after so many other proposals are considered and rejected, Mendez is finally struck by inspiration in the craziest way possible. His new plan to get the Americans out of Iran involves having them pose as a Canadian film crew scouting out potential movie locations in Iran. But that means actually going through the various steps of putting together a movie in order to make things as real as possible when the Iranian officials start to dig into their back story when they try to exit the country.

This movie genuinely surprised me, especially coming from a guy like Ben Affleck. As much as we know that he can direct movies and has handled a few in his lifetime, the experience that he helped to create in this movie both as a director and an actor was just phenomenal. This movie truly blew me away.

And I think one of the things that made this movie so brilliant is not because it was all about edge-of-your-seats action. Instead, they managed to maintain a consistent sense of tension throughout the movie through the depiction of the situation alone. Thus as much as there was a fair amount of talking, the movie also made effective use of both silence and musical scoring in order to achieve this effect. It may not sound like much when you describe it in mere words - you really have to watch the whole thing to appreciate it.

The truth is often stranger than fiction, and that's the core premise of why this movie works so much. The idea of using a science fiction movie as your cover seems almost preposterous and yet as you watch the plan unfold and realize just how feasible things just might have been given the circumstances. And thus it makes the final outcome of things all the more brilliant. The true tension goes well beyond the music or the direction of the various sequences. Ultimately it comes the truth at the heart of this whole story - the fact that this actually happened.

The movie had a great cast that didn't particular stand out but instead worked well as a group. Sure you had the Hollywood scenes that felt very different in tone from the rest of things. But beyond that everyone else worked smoothly together like one elaborate dance. It's not easy to choreograph something like this. But when i's done as well as it was in this particular instance, the end result is absolutely beautiful.

Argo is a great movie - there's no getting around that fact. You know that it's going to get a heck of a lot of nominations and it's going to snag quite a number of awards to boot. And while it may not tickle everyone's fancy (and what movie ever does?) but at the very least you are going to get to experience quite the amazing story. And so Argo gets 4.5 elaborate cover stories out of a possible 5.

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  1. The movie had stand out actors also behind the scene and also in the movie. This should really be interesting.

  2. Affleck will be Oscar-nominated for Best Director, I am a hundred percent sure. Argo is one of the most memorable films this year. Brilliant filmmaking! During the climax-airport scene, you feel like ripping your hair off in fear and suspense! lol. The nervousness will linger long after you've left the cinema. :D

  3. And I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from Affleck as a director. I was so wrong!

  4. I still have to watch this movie yet. I also wasn't expecting much from Affleck as a director but now it's the other way around.

  5. I am looking forward to watching Argo. it's been on my must-buy DVD list. Trouble with a kid is you can't take them to movie house and watch this kind of film haha. glad you enjoyed the political thriller

  6. I heard a lot of good reviews for this movie.. I never knew Afleck is into directing.. :) Way to go!!

    Might be watching this soon.. :D

  7. Yes, I also feel he's bound to get a few Oscar nods for this movie.

  8. This movie totally took be by surprise as well.

  9. Haha, yes I totally understand the challenge there. Hope you get a chance to watch it soon!

  10. He has been directing movies for a while now including the likes of Gone Baby Gone and The Town.