Argo – Film Review

By Trisha Ray (Copy Editor)






Film: Argo

Cast: Ben Affleck, Grant Heslov, George Clooney

Director: Ben Affleck

Quick Take: Go watch it. Now.

Rated: 4.5/5

I usually steer clear of the hyped films because more often than not, they tend to disappoint. Hurt Locker is one of the less-heartbreaking examples. So, when I walked into the cinema hall yesterday to watch the accolade-draped Argo, I kept my expectations as low as possible; a rather regrettable error.

Set in 1980-81, the film is based on the book The Master of Disguise with director Ben Affleck playing author Tony Mendez, when Iranian militia under Ayatollah Khomeini, storm the US embassy and take its employees hostage. 6 escape and find asylum at the Canadian Ambassador’s house. Mendez is a CIA exfiltration (exfil) operative, whose job is to get this motley crew of 6 safely out before they’re hunted down and executed by the militia. Mendez then hatches a crazy plan.

“Okay, you got 6 people hiding out in a town of what, 4 million people, all of whom chant “death to America” all the livelong day. You want to set up a movie in a week. You want to lie to Hollywood, a town where everybody lies for a living. Then you’re gonna sneak 007 over here into a country that wants CIA blood on their breakfast cereal, and you’re gonna walk the Brady Bunch out of the most watched city in the world.” – Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin).

Argo is a beautiful piece of film-making. Weaving effortlessly between contrasting emotions, it keeps the viewer deliciously engaged. My eyes never left the screen for a single instant, and my nails were planted firmly into my armrest: the film is a heady mixture of tears, fear, anger, love, hate, film industry satire and general craziness. Each of the characters is made flesh-and-blood real: each with her/his own flaws and fears. Nothing felt artificial or forced. The casting is brilliantly done (refer to the credits at the end of the film). Kudos to all the actors in the film, all of whom gave wonderful performances.

One thing that sets this film apart from most terrorism/thriller movies is the careful objectivity. It does not (at least not overtly) try to push the ‘American Dream’- there is plenty of criticism: against the bureaucracy, against US supremacy, against the men who sentence entire nations to death from behind their desks. There are no true villains (except Khomeini, that fundamentalist jerk) or victims. The critic did however find herself rooting for those lovely Canadians- proving once again that they are the nicest country on the planet.

As a text, Argo isn’t particularly ‘new’ or innovative. It takes the usual formulae, and makes them work wonderfully. It isn’t made to cater to a particular audience so one doesn’t feel left-out and disconnected while watching it, as was the case with Hurt Locker (yes, I’m a HL-basher). I urge you to go watch it, on a big screen preferably.


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