SYNOPSIS: 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 Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top "exfiltration" specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.
REVIEW: Chris Terrio’s screenplay, based on an article by Joshuah Bearman and a chapter from the released book, by real-life CIA agent Tony Mendez, takes the basic facts of what happened with the Iranian hostage crisis and brings them to fruition on the big-screen. All of this with a cool, head-strong character driven style that is covered by an ensemble of actors that includes the likes of Ben Affleck, John Goodman and Bryan Cranston, to name a few. I certainly liked how the story opened with a potted history of pre-1979 Iran. This was certainly required to get the film going. It moved along at a comfortable pace and continuously escalated in action and tension.
Most notable is that this docudrama is directed by Ben Affleck, who seems to be making his mark on relevant subject matter feature releases, these days. This was evident in his first feature “Gone Baby Gone” (2007), the second feature “The Town” (2010) and now again with the release of Argo. This latest release shows that Affleck's eye as a director is relentlessly curious, constantly looking for the details that sell the emotion or the tension or the subtext, and it feels like he has become more and more confident both as a Director and an actor. Moreover, he seems strong enough as a filmmaker to resist the urge to do flashy absurd over the top features. In addition to his bold display of directorial skills, he also gives one of his soundest acting jobs to date. As an actor/director he keeps his performance strong and the action zipping along. There is very little time for boredom to set in, which in my mind was proof that a directing works well. The acting, dialog and scenes hold the audience in suspense even though most are already well aware of the outcome. Ultimately, I think the thing I like most about Affleck is that these days he doesn’t seem to be waiting around for some ‘buddy’ to come along and rescue his career, as in the case of many in Hollywood. He simply seems to be taking control and he rescuing himself. With the addition of this film, I believe he can claim legitimacy in the realm of being a heck of a director, which nicely compliments his acting career.
Despite the obvious feel of this captivating true story playing out like it could be an extend promo for the US state department, in my mind; it certainly has an Oscar-friendly element to it. I think the movie achieved all that could have been expected of such an extraordinary storyline and I certainly believe that is deserves four stars (out of five).
By Movie-Man Stan
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