Fake film could win an Oscar
Argo (15, 120 mins)
Thriller/Action. Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate
Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishe, Christopher Denham, Clea
DuVall, Rory Cochrane, Victor Garber. Director: Ben
Fiction couldn't be any stranger than the truth in Argo, based
on real-life events following the 1979 storming of the US Embassy
Ben Affleck is a deserved front runner for the Best Director
statuette at next year's Academy Awards for his work on this
gripping thriller that keeps us teetering on the edge of our seats
for the entire two hours.
The handsome, California-born leading man has been a solid
presence on screen for more than 30 years but it's more recently,
behind the camera, that he has truly excelled.
His script for Good Will Hunting, co-written with Matt Damon,
won the Oscar and critics have lavished superlatives on his
directorial efforts Gone Baby Gone and The Town.
Argo restores Affleck to thriller territory, working from a lean
script by Chris Terrio, based on an article written by Joshuah
On November 4, 1979, simmering tensions outside the US embassy
finally boil over.
Militants break through the barricades and storm the
"Don't shoot anybody!" orders one guard, "You don't want to be
the person who started a war!"
Iranians capture 52 Americans and hold them hostage but six
members of staff - Bob Anders (Tate Donovan), Joe Stafford (Scoot
McNairy), Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bishe), Mark Lijek (Christopher
Denham), Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall) and Lee Schatz (Rory Cochrane) -
manage to escape to the nearby residence of the Canadian ambassador
(Victor Garber). They hide in a basement crawl space while awaiting
news from the outside world.
Back on American soil, CIA extractor Tony Mendez (Affleck)
concocts an elaborate scheme to rescue the escapees: he will pose
as a film producer who has come to Iran to scout for locations for
a sci-fi epic called Argo.
The six stranded embassy staff will adopt the guise of his crew
and they will leave the country together under false passports.
Bona fide Hollywood producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and
make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) throw their weight
behind Argo to give the plan credibility.
When Tony arrives on Iranian soil, he soon realises all of his
smooth talking and experience might not be enough to save the
embassy staff from an Iranian firing squad.
Argo holds our attention hostage in a vice-like grip and refuses
to let go.
Taut pacing, slick editing and escalating tension are
underpinned by emotionally wrought performances from a sensational
Arkin and Goodman provide the comic relief as the Hollywood
veterans who realise they must spend serious money to create the
illusion of a blockbuster in the making.
"If I'm doing a fake movie, it's gonna be a fake hit!" growls
The nail-biting climax succumbs to dramatic licence but by that
point we forgive Affleck everything.
:: Swearing :: No Sex :: Violence :: Rating: 9/10
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