Out Now On-Demand
The movie was fake, the mission was real.
Ben Affleck directs and stars in this Academy Award-winning thriller, the true story of a plan hatched by the CIA to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1979. To do so, the Agency teams up with a Hollywood producer to fake a sci-fi movie production, using a location shoot as the pretext to get its people out.
When the U.S. Embassy in Iran is stormed by Islamic students and militants, six embassy staff escape in the confusion. The U.S. Government desperately seeks to get them out of the country before they are found and executed as spies - enter exfiltration specialist Antonio Mendez (Affleck). Mendez goes to Hollywood and works with a make-up artist (John Goodman) and producer (Alan Arkin) to fake the production of a sci-fi film, something that can explain Westerners moving in and out of the country. Then it's off to Tehran, for a rescue mission right under the noses of the new hardcore Islamic regime.
Best Picture, Film Editing and Adapted Screenplay at the 2013 Academy Awards. Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director at the Golden Globes 2013. Best Film and Best Director, BAFTA Awards 2013.
- Chris Terrio (based on the article 'Escape from Tehran' by Joshuah Bearman)
Drama, Thriller, True Story & Biography
Rating: M contains violence & offensive language
With Argo, Ben Affleck-the-Director continues his admirable streak of making us forget Ben Affleck-the-Actor who for a period starred in embarrassing career-killing dreck like Surviving Christmas, Gigli and Daredevil. Extending his reach far beyond the Boston crime milieu of his first two films, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck demonstrates more of his proficient directorial chops in dramatising the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 where 52 Americans were held hostage by Islamic militants in the US Embassy in Tehran. 6 diplomats managed to escape the siege, and their rescue - a seemingly crackpot plan devised by CIA “ex-fil” agent Tony Mendez (a fine, understated Affleck) to disguise them as a Canadian film crew scouting exotic locations for a fake sci-fi movie - gives Argo its stranger-than-fiction appeal.
Toggling between severe political turmoil of the Middle East and the tawdry world of Hollywood make-believe is a dicey tonal balancing act, but Affleck has turned in a superbly acted, effortlessly entertaining brew of ‘70s-style political thriller, film-within-a-film satire and caper hijinks. Though the film never quite achieves the gutsy, dizzying horror of the first reel - where the rebels storm the Embassy - it does maintain a nerve-wracking ticking-bomb momentum, even if there’s no doubt in our minds that it’ll head for a comfy, optimistic conclusion. One could chastise Affleck for making a movie that too neatly condenses a messy event, but that doesn’t stop Argo from being a film worthy of its incredible hook: engaging, thoughtful, completely gripping.
Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
Time Out New York
Total Film (UK)
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
What can I say -
This is entertaining, and well worth a watch. I don't understand the Oscar or ALL the love its gotten though. The main storyline is riveting, shame about the shoehorned sentimentality at the end.
Really Enjoyed this film. I thought that it had an excellent discussion of the politics of the late 1970's and early 80's. Although the last sequence definitely feels very "Hollywoodifed" it still stands as one of the best films of the year (so far) and also Ben Affleck's best film to date.
Although if I were to have one criticism it would be that the performance of Ben Affleck was a bit boring throughout the film and would of probably been a better choice if he sticked behind the camera.
Still an excellent film and a must see.
A thrill ride worth the ticket price.
Clever old Ben Affleck! A story worth telling about an event that was declassified by the U.S. Government in the 90's, and I imagine few of us knew about it. Some of the characters are believable others not so much but the final sequence is so stressful it makes for cinema magic.
The soundtrack is schmaltzy (except when we are listening to the pop of the day) which is mildly irritating but overall, good job Ben!
Yay a great movie without subtitles so my man can watch
Really enjoyed this, good representation of the times. I don't like American block busters and finally a good independent feeling movie without subtitles. So if you like alternative and your movie buddy can't cope with subtitles this is great.
A bloody good watch
About the right mix of action, suspense and personality, I reckon.
You know the ending.... but
Yes, we already know how this real-life drama ends, but its a great watch and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Im not a fan of Ben, but he impressed me in this movie as both actor and director.
One of the year's best
Could anyone have predicted ten years ago the path that Ben Affleck has taken? To go from being the butt of countless 'Bennifer' jokes, prancing around Hollywood in terrycloth jumpsuits, to being one of the most interesting, well-composed film-makers working today? Audiences love a comeback story, and that's precisely what Affleck has given us, with three excellent films under his belt, the best of which, Argo, is a genuine front-runner for best film of 2012.
It's possible that Ben Affleck's skill as a director and (as his fantastic work in Argo can attest) actor, owes a great deal to his time right in the centre of the public eye. Rebuilding his credibility as an artist to be taken seriously must have been no mean feat, given the ridiculous level of tabloid exposure he had, but by turning his attention to slow-burn thoughtful fare such as Argo he has all but removed himself from public life and simply lets the quality of the work speak for itself.
Argo is a fascinating story, so absurd that it can only be true. Concerning a covert mission to rescue six American citizens in hiding during the Iranian hostage crisis of the early 1980s, it's deeply serious material, but with an almost farcical edge. And while Affleck certainly takes many opportunities to inject humour into the film, the stakes are so high that when the extraction actually begins, the level of suspense stretches the limits of endurance.
Bizarrely, the film makes an interesting counterpoint to last year's suspense highlight Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Where that film relied on outlandish stunts and huge suspension of disbelief to perch us on the edge of our seats however,Affleck's languid pacing works perfectly for Argo. Creative license is assumed, but the realism permeates every frame. M:I's Ethan Hunt is for all intents and purposes a superhero, whereas Tony Mendez (Affleck) is simply a man, albeit an expert as his specific vocation. He appears to take everything in stride, right down to his troubled home life, and Affleck's enigmatic performance is easy to overlook, but absolutely grounds the film.
It's character work that gives nothing away yet says so much, and if he appears to take everything in stride, it's simply because he must. This is a man who prepares for the worst so he won't be caught unawares when it happens, and as such he seems a little distant, aloof as to whether the mission succeeds. Yet small moments give him away, betraying his intense investment in what he does. It's not flashy, but it's a very well pitched performance.
As good as Affleck is in his dual role as star and director, this is by no means a one man show. Alongside a mightily impressive cast including Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman, the film is beautifully shot with wonderful period detail, and Alexandre Desplat's clever, lively score adds the exciting spy film atmosphere that is absent from the script.
Argo is a triumph, an old-fashioned example of how to make tense, exciting adult drama, and it's not unreasonable to assume that Affleck's film will be a key player on the coming award circuit, and deservedly so.
When Ben Affleck directed 'Gone Baby Gone' he surprised me with a superb and subtly directed drama. When he followed it up with 'The Town' he delivered a so-so tale with some great action scenes. Now Affleck cements his status as a director who means business with 'Argo' - a film that (for me at least) easily equals Spielberg's scintillating 'Munich' for real-life drama retold with style to spare.
'Argo' tells the so-crazy-it-must-be-true tale of a CIA mission to extract six U.S. diplomats stranded in 1979 Iran by posing as a Hollywood film crew scouting locations for a 'Star Wars' rip-off cheesy sci-fi epic. It's like Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' - and the film tips its hat to Brooks' absurd masterpiece when Alan Arkin, playing a Hollywood producer, announces that it may be a fake movie - but he wants to make a fake hit! Arkin is as masterfully dry-witted as ever and it's his double-act with John Goodman, as make-up artist John Chambers, that steals the show in terms of comedy.
Affleck delivers as "ex-fil" expert Tony Mendez, as does Bryan Cranston as his CIA supervisor, Jack O'Donnell. Despite the touches of comic relief, the film's third act relates a nail-biting rescue mission against time as Affleck attempts to extract the six citizens in his care before the death squad on their tails...
It's a superbly handled political thriller - from the explanatory opening credits to the scintillating finale. Whilst it suffers from the same issues of third-act audience prior-knowledge as Cameron's 'Titanic' (in that we know, or can guess, how it'll all play out), Affleck's skill and assured direction retain the edge-of-your-seat tension required.
It's a tough call to balance action elements, espionage thriller and absurd comic Hollywood goings-on - but Affleck pulls it off with aplomb. If, like me, you enjoyed Spielberg's 'Munich,' or you're so old you recall the nail-biting tension of the ripped-from-the headlines tale, 'All The President's Men' - you'd be wise to catch 'Argo' - if only for the movie's oft-repeated catchphrase: "Argo f-yourself" ☺
Affleck does and amazing job at setting the tone for this film. Never before have I felt generally terrified for characters in a movie, but the opening sequences in Argo left me with heart palpitations. Argo is a great film, and the fact that it is based on fact makes it even better. If it was all fiction there would have been a bit more excitement in terms of gun battles etc, but you can't fault the story! Great film, I highly recommend it.