Sunday, November 4, 2012

Movie Review - Argo

I was 16-17 years old when the Iranian Hostage Crisis played out. My memories of it were not fond. We had given the corrupt former ruler of Iran refuge in the US. Protesters overran our embassy and took our embassy staff hostage. The US appeared impotent to do anything to get them free. We sent a rescue mission in at one point but it was a debacle that resulted in lost American lives and no hostages freed. 

In the middle of this six Americans were seemingly smuggled out of Iran by the Canadians. They had managed to flee the embassy and avoid being captured. What we didn't know at the time was that their flight was the result of a CIA operation that just barely was successful in getting them their freedom.

That is the core of what the movie Argo is about - the secret mission to get these Americans back home. And it is one of the best movies I've seen since The Avengers.

First and foremost the casting is brilliant. The people cast look almost identical to their real-life counterparts which I think is awesome. I'm not a Ben Affleck fan, nor do I dislike him. His character was incredible. This is not some over-the-top action thriller. This is a real-world CIA exfiltration mission and despite the low-key approach, you really ended up liking both Affleck and the character he played.

Here's the deal - you know these people get out of Iran in the real world. But the tension is so high in this movie you are on pins and needles the entire time. There are so many things working against these potential hostages and their CIA savior (Affleck) that you are riveted right until the end of the movie.

The character I ended up loving the most was Affleck's CIA boss - played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston. Let's be blunt, Cranston is one of the most stunning actors in Hollywood, doing everything from comedy to high drama. In this role he is stunning. The audience a few times actually applauded his character. How often do you hear that about a movie?

Finally, Hollywood is producing new, fresh movies rather than retreads/reboots of old franchises. Argo has moments of humor, a few minutes of pure terror, and acting that is worthy of an Academy Award. This is a must-see film that reopens the old wounds of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and provides just enough historical context to make it very pertinent even today. I would give this six stars out of five - Argo is THAT good.  

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