Argo (2012)

A Hollywood masterpiece. And a historical farce. Two terms that are seemingly on opposite sides of the spectrum in the discussion of success. But in the case of Argo they seem to match up quite well.

Let’s start with the term ‘Hollywood masterpiece.’ There is no question this film is turning heads in the movie industry as well as among movie-goers. The film, written by Chris Terrio and directed by Ben Affleck (The Town; Gone Baby Gone), depicts the Iranian Hostage Crisis that took place in 1979 and the rescue mission that occurred in January of 1980.

It is a story that, at the time when it was happening, undoubtably shocked the Western world.

The film uses actual footage at times – giving the viewer the chance to really gain an understanding of the reality of the events in Iran during the time leading up to the fall of the American embassy.

The cast which includes Affleck, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Victor Garber (Milk, Titanic), and Clea DuVall (Conviction) delivers on this dramatic event that horrified the world – a story loosely based on the true story.

Even though there has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding it, Affleck’s casting of himself as CIA operative Tony Mendez was a good way to bring even more attention to the film – a film that has received a lot of Oscar buzz since its release.

But overshadowing Affleck’s brilliance in developing arguably one of the best films of the year is the controversy surrounding the “based on a true story” phrase that accompanies the film.

The film makes it seem as though the CIA was the major player in the extraction of the hostages.  In no way is it being said that the CIA didn’t have a role in it, but to what extent?

As former Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor said in a recent article by the Toronto Star’s Jim Coyle that Tony Mendez was only in Tehran for a couple of days – that he didn’t understand what was really happening.

The film shrugs off the role of Canadians and how important they really were to the efforts.

Don’t get me wrong – the film is fantastic.  It comes with some truth of how it went but viewers have to be careful and watch it through a critical lens.

The former ambassador’s main message to viewers?

Enjoy the movie as a Hollywood film, but not as a history lesson.

For more information, check out these articles:
Ben Affleck rewrites history – Film, TIFF 2012 – Brian D. Johnson/Maclean’s Magazine
‘Argo’: Former ambassador Ken Taylor sets the record straight – Jim Coyle/Toronto Star
Argo takes entertaining liberties with Canadian legend – Eric Volmers/Calgary Herald
Ben Affleck shows Ken Taylor some Hollywood diplomacy – Brian D. Johnson/Maclean’s Magazine

Director: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Rory Cochrane, and Kyle Chandler

Rating: 9/10



2 Responses to Argo (2012)

  1. Katie says:

    Great review! I definitely agree with you. I thought the beginning, where a female narrator takes you back in Iranian history leading up to the 1979 revolution that saw the Ayatollah gain power, was particularly powerful, setting the stage for the hostage crisis. I didn’t know a lot (actually, anything) about Iranian history and so I really appreciated that.

    • Thank you Katie for such a great response. I was in the same boat as you going in – I didn’t have the greatest of knowledge. The background info was great and helped to fulfill the lack of knowledge that I had. I’m glad you enjoyed the film – as well as my review. I hope you continue to read and post comments.

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