As I mentioned here some three weeks ago, Ben Affleck is an unassuming film-maker. I stick to my words, Affleck is unassuming and Argo is one of the best films to come out this year - a triumphant mix of drama and black comedy, suspense and political satire. Affleck re-creates a historical event with finely chiselled characters and a nail-biting plot.
The year is 1979 and tension is brewing in Iran, with Iran's polity in crisis. There's diplomatic rivalry between Iran and the US. All hell breaks loose when 52 Americans are held hostage for 444 days from November 1979 to January 1981, after a group of militants invades the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Six of them somehow escape the Embassy and finds sanctuary in the Canadian embassy. They want to escape but with political calamity rising every day, they have no choice but to stay put.
Enter Tony Mendez (Affleck), a CIA "exfiltrator" who is their only hope. His plan? To enter Iran as Canadian film-makers and convince everyone that the six of them are part of his film crew, scouting locations for Argo, tacky version of Star Wars.
But the real challenge lies in creating a foolproof cover by duping Hollywood itself with casting calls, launch parties and ads in Variety newspaper. Affleck successfully manages to transport us to a bygone era of Hollywood with over-the-top costumes, shady sets and lots of political squabbling.
Hollywood sees this fake Argo as a satire on the industry itself, specially when a make-up genius (John Goodman) and producer (Alan Arkin) become involved, the duo don't want to take any chances. With a big producer on board and the money to make a fake film, it will have to be a fake hit. And we the audience, are sucked into a world where farce is a celebrated quality.
In Tehran, Argo is a gritty sci-fi and no leaf is unturned, there is a fake storyboard with a scene of a charged chase through a bustling bazaar that will show the Iranian extremists that this is for real. In a way, the film is a tribute to the technique of movie-making, the spinning of stories that sway the audience to believe it's true.
What you get is a tense, exciting and darkly comic film that puts Affleck in the league of successful actors turned directors, like Clint Eastwood.
This is a great movie to go and see. It leaves you on the edge of the seat, especially near the end and being based on a real life event makes it even better. Ben Affleck is great in this movie and very believable and John Goodman and Alan Arkin gives it a comedic edge. It's a definite must-see if you like movies based on fact.