Argo

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Oscar's nominees for Best Picture are coming out on DVD, finally. We failed to see every single one of them when they were in the theatres. But we're starting out with the winner, Argo. And it's a perfectly fine movie.

I was personally more entertained by Skyfall, The Avengers, The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits. And maybe a few others. But that's just me. Oscar has different criteria.

It's likely you are already acquainted with the plot synopsis, but here it is anyway: back in 1979-80, when Iranian "militants" took over the US Embassy in Tehran, six employees escaped and were hidden in the Canadian Embassy. It was only a matter of time before their presence became known and they become (at best) hostages like the other 52 capturees, or… well, worse.

But getting them out of Iran was problematic. In steps Tony Mendez, a CIA operative "exfiltration" expert. (He's played by Ben Affleck, who also directed.) His kooky scheme: get into Iran pretending to be a Canadian filmmaker; the six fugitives will then pose as a film crew scouting locations for the blockbuster sci-fi film Argo. And they will all fly out together, pretending their work has been completed.

There's a lot of edge-of-your-seat suspense as the plan nearly falls apart six or eight times. There's also a surprising amount of deadpan humor, especially between Affleck's character and the filmmakers he recruits to help him out with the scam (played by John Goodman and Alan Arkin). If you suspect it's all a little too good to be true, you're right: the Wikipedia page goes into detail on how the film diverges from reality.

Trivia: The actual Argo project was to be based on Roger Zelazny's Hugo-winning novel Lord of Light. (The CIA changed the name, apparently.) I think that might have been a bitchin' movie, done correctly. Too bad they didn't follow through.


Last Modified 2013-06-19 1:23 PM EDT