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    December 25, 2012


    During the height of 1979’s Iranian Revolution, a group of student militant stormed into the U.S. Embassy, capturing and holding more than 50 diplomats and staff as hostage. I was not born back then, but the crisis was one of the political tensions that has cold war backdrop behind it. The diplomatic ties between U.S. and Iran deteriorated and the sentiments of anti-American and anti-Iranian peaked into resounding tension. God knows when World War III may erupt back then. Weeks later, the government learned that there were 6 diplomats escaped the hostage crisis and had found refuge in the Canadian embassy. But their existence had to remain a secret to keep Canada’s diplomatic status unbeknown to the Iranian.

    Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Drama
    Classification: 18
    Release Date: -
    Running Time: 120 minutes
    Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
    Director: Ben Affleck
    Screenplay: Chris Terrio; based on "The Master of Disguise" by Antonio J. Mendez and "The Great Escape" by Joshuah Bearman
    Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Kyle Chandler, Sheila Vand, Farshad Farahat

    Plot: Based on true events, Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis-the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.

    CIA sorted helps from Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), an “exfil” expert who never left anyone behind in his job. The bearded loner fresh from experiencing separation from his family, schemes an unlikely plan to extract the six Americans. He called upon Hollywood producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) to enlist “Argo” into a faux production, backed by the Canadian studio. Everything about this Middle Eastern-setting science-fiction looked so real that even a big article published in Variety seems convincing. And Mendez would fly alone into Tehran to train the six Americans as Canadian film crew, scouting for exotic locations and fly out under the noses of the Revolutionary Guard.

    For Affleck’s third directorial feature, it becomes clear that his direction and styles have matured progressively, as compared to his last effort in The Town. Affleck is now a reputable director of his own as he shows his strength even more in Argo. The Town, if you remember in my assessment back in 2010, is a step up for Affleck from his first feature. He confronted the thrilling story of the crime world in Boston into a sentinel of nurturing human aspects and intensifying set-pieces with The Town. Argo marks another step up too. He chooses to give this brand new CIA exfil-thriller a livelier, more comedic and darker feel as well; while maintaining the humanoid and intensity aspects all check. Like Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Affleck’s Argo gives him an equal chance to come on board high on craftsmanship and filmmaking ability, but as if he is already a seasoned man himself.

    Directing from an ingenious script by Chris Terrio, Affleck makes Argo a mix of good-yet-perplexing genres and moods that often takes itself both serious and hilarious. These two elements are evidently highlighted by the Terrio’s smart dialogues. “Argo fuck yourself!” is a constant reminder of how hoax this plan is, playfully uttered by the characters as both a cheeky one-liner and a mockery. And there is a reference to John Wayne’s heroism too whom passed away six months prior to the crisis. And then there is also moment of havoc on the street bazaar of Tehran that goes eerie at one point.

    The Hollywood guys who are played by John Goodman and Alan Arkin, providing lots of comedic relief and mood-soother; yet still have their laughs earthbound to the issue. Affleck as Tony Mendez is the mediator of both sane and insanity, a real window pane into the crisis. Bryan Cranston plays as a stubborn CIA boss Jack O’Donnell is engaging. Victor Garber plays the helpful Canadian ambassador who risked it all to protect the six, is also fantastic. But the movie is not biased. We see the Iranians’ point of view too, as great piece of acting by Sheila Vand and Farshad Farahat as the Revolutionary Guard, are enough to gauge the tension.

    This absurd plan of CIA is, of course, preposterous, ridiculous and senseless. But the reality is imminent. It makes the impossible and implausible story from an article in the Wired magazine to sound so crazily real and so bad-ass intense. Argo is a movie with high meticulous and facts in it. Argo is apolitical in nature, spending more time on the pressing issue than a board of meeting at White House; which I think is a proper setting. Argo is without a xenophobic sensation and equally highlights both the American and the Iranian orderly. But what matter the most is that the build-up of plot eventually gives in an even more intense moments at the final 45 minutes – the third act. While the third act is not a factual event and is over-dramatized, the crazy pace when the seven try to escape Tehran with a Swiss Air plane is engaging right to the edge of the seat. It pays off in the end, in every aspect.

    In the end, Argo is an excellent thriller with amazing combination of dark comedy, well-built plot and frantically nail-biting scenes that transcend above the expectation. Argo fuck yourself!

    Story: 4.5
    Casts: 5.0
    Cinematography: 5.0
    Effects: 5.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 18.9/20.0

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