Culture Street

Film review: Argo

On November 5, 2012

By Rebecca McRitchie

Argo follows the true events that occurred in 1979 when the American Embassy in Teheran was stormed by Iranians protesting America’s protection of a deposed Shah. Amongst the chaos, six American Embassy workers manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. To rescue the six, a CIA ‘exilftration’ agent concocts a risky plan to smuggle the Americans out of Iran under the guise of a fake Canadian science fiction movie crew.

Directed, produced and starring Ben Affleck, Argo is an engaging political thriller that is intense from the very beginning. Despite this, the screenplay, written by Chris Terrio, is peppered with in-jokes and jibes about Hollywood that still ring true today. Alan Arkin and John Goodman also star as the Hollywood names, providing much needed comedic relief that cuts the film’s relentless tension.

Affleck does a superb job in crafting a thrilling, intelligent and entertaining heist movie. The ending, although likely riddled with dramatic liberties, is incredibly suspenseful to the point of nail-biting.   As the CIA exfiltration agent, however, Affleck’s character could have had more depth. In fact, as a whole, the movie could have had more character development, not only for Affleck’s character but also for the six Americans at the centre of the story.

In spite of this, the film tackles important topics that are discussed today and does so cleverly, particularly with regards to the East-West dichotomy, the notion of ‘the other’ and the volatile, political history of America’s relationship with Iran.

Affleck captures the overwhelming violence and claustrophobic fear that will leave you gripping the arms of your seat. Audiences will definitely enjoy Argo and there is a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding the film. Overall it is a solid film but Oscar-worthy? I’m not entirely convinced. I give Argo a 3.7 out of 5.

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