Stylish, gutsy and gripping, Argo is a thrilling film that refreshingly lives up to its hype.
Six Americans are forced to take refuge in the Canadian embassy after Iranian militants rebel against the US for controversially sheltering the Shah of Persia (aka The Last King of Iran).They invade the embassy taking 50 hostages, yet the fortunate six manage to make it to the Canadian ambassador’s home (Ken Taylor – played by Victor Garber) where they reside and await rescue…or death.
This recently-revealed real-life story lends itself to theatrical embodiment so perfectly it’s a wonder this film hasn’t already been made (although the 1981 TV movie Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper gave it a good shot). It’s such a ridiculous storyline you literally couldn’t make it up. Only the fact that it’s based on the real operation which wasn’t made public until 2007 (once Bill Clinton declassified it), makes the concept remotely plausible, otherwise it could easily have been a Ben Stiller film possibly starring Jack Black as the pilot.
In order for the six Yanks to escape the embassy alive, the American government concoct a precarious plan to fabricate their identities as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a Sci-fi film. Yes really. After winning over the reluctant cooperation of bigwig directors and industry execs, the government and Hollywood combine to get the homesick, home safe.
Gripping is an understatement. It’s about as breathtaking as hurtling towards the lip of a cliff on ice-skates.
It’s not just the Iranian government they need to fool. The entertainment press are also unwittingly in on the operation. When they’re told of this film they see ‘real’ scripts, a familiar cast of actors and a futuristic film set and report accordingly on its forthcoming production.
It takes a courageous crew and cast to tackle this synopsis without it coming across as a joke, yet Ben Affleck, Grant Heslov and George Clooney (the team from Good Night and Good Luck) tackle the task with painstaking panache.
We expect this kind of swag from Gorgeous George, but for Ben it’s been a slow rise from the grave he dug himself with a J-Lo shaped shovel, even after the simmering success of Gone Baby Gone.
Argo affirms that Affleck’s got his sexy back (off screen and behind the camera) and is now standing tall with talks of an Oscar to prop himself up against. Directional excellence aside, Ben Affleck smolders on screen. Underneath the steely stature lies a boyish vulnerability which would excuse him from the most deviant of wrong-doings with those dopey dog eyes and apologetic smile.
Gripping is an understatement. It’s about as breathtaking as hurtling towards the lip of a cliff on ice-skates. It’s seat-clenching excellence and will make you wonder how many other secret government plots there are just waiting to make it to the big screen. Definitely one to watch for Oscar success.