Ben Affleck’s much-hyped Argo, which played in early September at the Toronto International Film Festival, is utterly satisfying and definitely worthy of all the anticipation. The film is a retelling of the Iranian hostage crisis, a CIA rescue operation that was declassified under Bill Clinton’s presidency. In the incident, a group of U.S. diplomats working in Iran were held captive, unable to leave the country. However, six managed to escape from the Islamist revolutionaries and consequently sought refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. The movie follows members of the CIA as they desperately attempt to free the six prisoners, giving them fake Canadian identities and helping them pose as a Hollywood film crew on a location scout for a fake sci-fi movie, which is itself titled Argo.
A wild ride indeed, Argo somehow has the audience on the edge of their seat as they ride a rollercoaster of emotions. From the tense drama to the surprisingly generous serving of comedy, it’s a perfect film experience. The movie is thoroughly entertaining, a testament to the many things gone right in the process of making it.
Ben Affleck once again takes a lead role: CIA technical operations officer Tony Mendez, who facilitated the escape of the American diplomats. He also directed, and the movie makes it clear that he is a talented and serious Hollywood filmmaker. He has directed his best film so far with Argo.
The cast is an assembly of A-list actors, including Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin. The veterans all broaden their range in these roles and deliver solid performances. As well, Chris Terrio’s script, based on the real-life Antonio Mendez’s memoir The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA, manages a meticulous attention to detail but also allows the movie to flow smoothly from beginning to end. The two hours of running time seem to fly by.
There is also a good chance that this political thriller will specifically engage and satisfy Canadian audiences. A love letter to Canada, Argo features a constant appreciation of our home and native land. As the diplomats await their rescue at the Canadian ambassador’s home, they take on their fake Canadian identities with wonderfully stereotypical humour and a stream of friendly quips about our country, which left the audience applauding well after the movie ended. MMMM