by Tony Medley
OK for children.
director Ben Affleck is not shy about his leftwing political leanings,
this is still a tense, relatively non-political telling of the CIA's
rescue of six Americans who fled the US Embassy in Iran on November 4,
1979, and were given sanctuary at the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken
Taylor (Victor Garber), who risked his life and the life of his wife Pat
(Page Leong) when all the other American allies in Iran refused to help.
The script is by
Chris Terrio, and is based on a selection from the Master of Disguise
by Antonio J Mendez and the wired magazine article The Great
Escape by Joshuah Bearman.
For my money,
Affleck is one of the best directors in Hollywood with two outstanding
films already to his credit, The Town, 2010, and Gone Baby
Gone, 2007. He's even better here than he was in those two.
did not write the script, this still qualifies as an auteur performance
because in addition to directing, he also stars and coproduces with
fellow left-winger George Clooney.
of the takeover of the American Embassy by Islamic zealots, who took
over Iran with as a result of the complicity of feckless US president
Jimmy Carter's withdrawal of U.S. support for our best ally in the
Mideast, the Shah, is especially impressive.
In fact, the
entire movie is especially impressive. While many people may know the
outcome, it is still a taut tale that can keep you on the edge of your
seat. Affleck gives a fine, understated performance as CIA "exfiltration"
specialist, Tony Mendez.
Tony comes up
with an out of the box idea to rescue the six Americans. He proposes to
go in as an American producer of a film and bring the six out as part of
his team. Looking through lots of scripts he comes up with a sci-fi film
entitled "Argo." He goes to Hollywood and encounters John Chambers (John
Goodman), an award–winning makeup pioneer, who received an honorary
Oscar® for his masks for the original Planet of the Apes. He also
recruits a real-life producer, Lester Siegel, played with panache by
Alan Arkin, who is the best thing in this very good movie. This part of
the film is loaded with stale Hollywood jokes.
The six actors
who comprise the ones escaping the Embassy all give fine performances,
perfectly capturing their dilemma, fear, and uncertainty, especially
about Tony's bizarre plan. They certainly didn't embrace it with
this film is high quality. I can't imagine it not being up for multiple
Oscars®. One final comment is that you should stay for the end credits,
because they include pictures of the real-life people who lived through
this ordeal alongside the actors playing them. The similarity in looks
is remarkable, which is why I'm, well, remarking.
October 11, 2012