Film Review: Argo—A heart makes the hero

            The movie “Argo” directed by Ben Affleck enjoys the resounding victory for the Oscar 2013 with three important prizes: Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The film also won Best Picture – Drama and Best Director in the Golden Globe Awards and many other prizes. No wonder “Argo” is the movie receiving the most attention from the public opinion this time.

            “Argo” is a historical drama thriller film whose plot is taken from the book “The Master of Disguise” by CIA operative Tony Mendez and the article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Berman. It is about Tony Mendez, who led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran during 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The filming began in Los Angeles in August 2011 and also other places such as McLean, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Istanbul.

Ben Affleck plays a vital role in this movie because he is the director, the main actor and the producer. He has been recognized for some of his directorial debuts such as “Gone Baby Gone” (2007) and “The Town.” (2010)

The opening scene captures the attention of the audience by a short summary about the Shah government. Then, the disorder and violence happen in front of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Thousands of Iranians shout, burn the flags and climb over the wall to get inside of the building.

Mendez comes up with his solution by watching “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” a TV show his son watches, and he begins plans for the escapees. They will disguise themselves as a Canadian film-making crew which scouts exotic locations in Iran for a science-fiction movie. This is a remarkable motif in the heroic films in which the solutions for problems always happen by chance.

The combination between intensity of the drama and the funny factors creates “Argo’s” unique attraction. It makes the audience feel breathtaking at one moment, but freely laugh after that. A funny scene starts when Mendez contacts John Chambers (John Goodman), a Hollywood make-up artist, who has previously crafted disguises for the CIA and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). A rock ‘n’ roll song, “Little T&A” by The Rolling Stones, contributes to the lively atmosphere in Hollywood, contrast to the dangerous situation the six escapees are stuck in.

“Argo” has a scene mocking journalism by Lester’s saying: “If you want to sell a lie, get the press to sell it for you.”

From “Pearl Harbor” (2001) to “Argo” (2012), Ben Affleck has improved a lot about his acting skills. No more depending on his outlook, Affleck affirms his talent through an outstanding performance. Although his Mendez’s expressions seem to be calm and even glacial, his spirit is revealed through his eyes.  A variety of emotions are depicted in the hero: his sadness when he confides his personal life to Lester, his determination to be responsible for the escapees or anxiety when confronting Iranian capture.

Although the film lasts 120 minutes, the audience may not feel it is long because of its fast speed. The film-makers use fast editing in which jumping cuts help the scenes change all the time.

“Argo” is widely acclaimed by American critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported 96 percent of critics gave the film positive reviews.

“Ben Affleck’s seamless direction catapults him to the forefront of Hollywood filmmakers turning out thoughtful entertainment,” said Stephen Holden, a critic of the “New York Times.”

Roger Ebert of the “Chicago Sun-Times” gave the film 4/4 stars, calling it “spellbinding” and “surprisingly funny.” He chose it as his best film of the year.

By contrast, on the Business Insider website, it claims Iranian authority is planning to sue Hollywood over “Argo” because of the movie’s allegedly “unrealistic portrayal” of the country.

Especially for this movie, don’t believe the trailer. Its happenings will keep you awake until the last moment when you have to say: “Argo, f*ck yourself!” as the way Lester explains about its title’s meaning.





Argo (2012)

Rating: 8.4/10

MPAA Rating: R (Restricted Children under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian)

MPAA rating reasons: Sequences of violence, hard language.

Running Time: 120 minutes

Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer:  Chris Terrio (screenplay) from the book “The Master of Disguise” by Tony Mendez and the article “Escape from Tehran” by Joshuah Bearman

Produced by: Grant Heslov,

Ben Affleck, George Clooney


Distributed by: Warner Bros.

Playing at: CineArts @ Santana Row


About thiangel1605

Everything passed my life, I will save until the end...

One response to “Film Review: Argo—A heart makes the hero”

  1. CMrok93 says :

    Good review. The lack of action sequences receives no complaints either, because the film revels in the drama instead. And it really pulls you in with almost no effort.


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