In the hands of another director, say, Michael Bay, the re-telling of the Canadian Caper will no doubt be filled with explosions. But with Ben Affleck taking the helm, a gem of a film appears. I went into the film blind (not watching the trailers) and expected some degree of action ala The Town, and was pleasantly surprised to see nary an action scene, yet a film full of suspense and intrigue.
On November 4th 1979, militants stormed the US embassy in Tehran, and took 50 embassy staff hostage, demanding the return of deposed Shah (King, who was now hiding in US) to answer for his crimes. 6 of them escaped, and went into hiding at the residence of the Canadian Ambassador.
Argo is the story of their escape and extraction from Tehran.
CIA extraction specialist Tony Mendez’s plan, was for him to go under cover as a film producer, scouting Tehran for exotic locations to produce his sci-fi film, Argo, inspired by Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
He would then smuggle in 6 other Canadian passports for the 6 escapees, and posing as a film crew, head out of Tehran together. With such a backdrop, its easy to see how much restraint and integrity Ben has, in order not to infuse the film with any explosions of any kind.
Yet, the film succeeds in investing us in the story, and cheering for their ultimate escape. It has all the elements of a heist film; the plan, the ragtag team (in this instance, the 6 escapees who needs to each put on their role as a Canadian scriptwriter/director/cinematographer etc), the hiccups along the way, and finally, the execution of the plan.
And as the end credits roll, we couldn’t help but be in awe at Ben’s perfectionist streak as we’re shown stills from the film against actual photographs of the Iran hostage crisis. Uncanny likeness.
Definitely a contender for one of the best films of 2012.
Interesting to note how much better Affleck is doing as a director, than just purely as an actor. I read through his Wiki, and saw the title of a student film he’d made called “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney”.
What can I say? Awesome name for a film! Would love to watch that!