Monday, November 5, 2012


We left our cold, dark house one night last week to see Argo, the new Ben Affleck directed film which is based on an incident from the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80.  During the initial takeover of the US embassy, six Americans were able to get out and reach the Canadian ambassador's residence where they were hidden.  Three months later they were smuggled out of Iran.  At the time there was a great deal of publicity after they reached the US and their escape was credited to action by the Canadian government.  In reality, the CIA engineered the escape and how it was pulled off is what the movie is about.

Argo has the feel of an old-fashioned action thriller.  No quick cuts, no pounding music and the soundtrack is not at 120 decibels.  Affleck manages to create a lot of tension even though you know how the movie turns out.  He also stars as CIA exfiltrator Tony Mendes and does a fine job.  Who thought Ben Affleck would actually turn out to be a good director and a capable actor?  Not me, but his first two directorial turns, Gone Baby Gone and The Town were both excellent films. You can see what I mean by scrolling down halfway in This Post.

What makes Argo more than just your run of the mill suspense film is the unique method by which the Americans were able to get out - using the guise of a Canadian sci-fi film production scouting shooting locations in Iran!   It also is the vehicle for injecting some very funny scenes since the fake Hollywood movie producer is played by Alan Arkin and the make-up artist by John Goodman.

Since Misremembering History is one of my interests here's my take on the historical accuracy of Argo. It gets the basic bones of the story right though it amps up the suspense at the end by injecting a couple of invented scenes.  You also have to suffer through the brief introduction of why the Iranian revolution occurred.  If it's meant to convey how an Iranian revolutionary viewed the history of the prior thirty years it's accurate but if it is meant to be an objective overview it's overly simplified. 

If you are interested in learning more the best book on the hostage crisis is Guests Of The Ayatollah by Mark Bowden (who also wrote Black Hawk Down).  And speaking of misremembering history Bowden relates a very timely story in the book that is right on point.

All in all an enjoyable evening even if you aren't otherwise cold and bored.

1 comment:

  1. Argo has Oscar buzz and now the best review of all...looks like a must see, grid power or not. dm