It took me a while to see this one; even with the hype and Oscar buzz surrounding it. But after finally picking this puppy up on BluRay, I must indeed say, it was worth the watch. It’s always tricky handling a true story; the history buffs are bound to swarm and devour the product, the entertainment buffs are sure to cry, “It’s propaganda!” or whatever else they can make up, and everyone else is left to pick a side or be attacked for their indecision. Not to mention, Ben Affleck is one of those ‘hate em or love em’ actors, so compounded with all the other hoops that this movie had to jump through – I’d almost go as far as to say the project began at a deficit. And lo! At the end of the day it is the Academy Awards Best Picture of the Year, triumphing over some serious competition up to and including, Django Unchained, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and others. So what was it that made Argo so special?
In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and several Americans were taken hostage. However, six managed to escape to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador and the CIA was eventually ordered to get them out of the country. With few options, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) devised a daring plan: to create a phony Canadian film project looking to shoot in Iran and smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some trusted Hollywood contacts, Mendez created the ruse and proceed to Iran as its associate producer. However, time was running out with the Iranian security forces closing in on the truth while both his charges and the White House had grave doubts about the operation themselves. (IMDB Online)
Now, I’m not going to waste time trying to suggest that this movie was good. I have a pretty sound philosophy – or at least I think it’s sound – that if the entire world, critics and consumers alike, enjoy a film, then it is an achievement piece. Not to say that everyone must like it because that is never – and I use never deliberately here – the case. Someone is always going to hate a movie just because they can. But minority rebels do not decide what history remembers. I’ve heard more people complain about James Cameron’s Avatar than I can readily believe, myself, but none of these people can logically justify how a movie that trumped the number one highest grossing movie of all time, also made by Cameron, is in fact a bad movie. Not liking a movie is one thing, ignoring the empirical is another. That said, Argo certifies itself despite the many who probably find a lot wrong with this movie.
I was phenomenally impressed with how engaging this movie is. There are points where I felt my heart thumping in my chest as I wondered what was going to happen next. I see a lot of movies, and I think each and every one of them makes an attempt at suspense. So I’m not so easily pulled in just because the music has sped up, the camera is shaking a little bit, actors are running, and the clock is ticking. It takes more than that. Frankly, this movie was paced almost perfectly and when things started getting tight, I felt just as insecure as the characters in the movie about what would happen next.
A particular quarrel I had with the movie was the lack of character development. Really, I felt that there were no characters in this movie at all. They were all really just line readers, but perhaps this was because of the covertness needed for CIA personification. But this is not the CIA, this is film. Honestly, the only reason I remember Afflecks characters name is because I had to write this review and its cleaner to just look up what the guys name was instead of saying “that one guy” the whole review. Tony Mendez, who is the protagonist of the story, has a very shallow character arc to the point where you really don’t give a damn about him. The other characters may not have even had names. They literally had lines when it was convenient and simply ‘did stuff’ for the rest of the movie. Now, with a story like this, a problem such as character development can be overlooked because realistically its not about them personally, but instead more about the purpose they serve. They’re like chess pieces; the king is the respective center of the board, the queen is another major player, and the rest serve the strategy you implement to effect a positive outcome. But let’s be honest, at the end of the day, if you lose your queen piece and win the game you still… win the game.
So all in all, I’m going to throw an 8/10 for Argo. I really enjoyed this movie and would definitely watch it again, but at some point down the line, maybe after six or seven views, all replay value will be gone and the movie will hold a sanctuary in history simply because of the award it won. It will collect dust on my shelf and maybe after enough time has gone by, I’ll pick it up again and watch it, re-living the thrill that it gave me upon my first viewing. I had the luxury of knowing nothing about the declassified case before watching the movie, so everything was a surprise to me. So I will always revere that first viewing experience when everything was new and pure and the story was truly entertaining. From there, I guess “Argo fuck myself.”