Argo begins with a bit of a history lesson, telling us how Mohammad Reza Shah ruled Iran from 1953 until 1979, at which point Khomeini took over after years of opulence and excess from Shah, living like a king while the population starved and he tried to Westernise the Iranians. In November 1979, Shah took asylum in the U.S. while dying of cancer, yet the Iranian population wanted him to return and be tried and hanged.
As of the 5th November, protestors stormed the Iranian embassy and took 60 hostages. Six escaped and went to hide in the Canadian Embassy but if the protestors got wind of that, then they would head over there and kill them. 69 days later, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), an expert in ex-filtration, is called to the CIA to assist in working out the best way to get them out of the Canadian residence. After watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes, on TV, he gets the idea to have the six pretend to be a film crew and, initially, arranges for a press reading with a temporary cast.
Argo is the story of what happens to those six people and whether or not Tony can get them out of the house in which they’re staying, on to pretending they’re scouting for locations – so they at least look the part – and then to the airport and on their way home. Affleck doesn’t dominate the movie, even though he’s also directing. Alan Arkin puts in a fine turn as the cantankerous movie director Lester Siegel, with John Goodman assisting him in the deception as John Chambers.
It’s a nicely-tense thriller that doesn’t outstay its welcome and, thankfully, sits nicely within its 2-hour running time and doesn’t pointlessly extend itself to nearly three hours like Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained.
It’s interesting also, that this film was available on Sky’s On Demand service for a week prior to the Blu-ray/DVD release date, and then taken away from that service on release date. Is the bell tolling for physical formats?
Note: This review is for the film only.
Running time: 120 minutes
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Released: March 4th 2013
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Hawkscope)
Director: Ben Affleck
Producers: George Clooney and Grant Heslov
Screenplay: Chris Terrio (based on the book “The Master of Disguise”by Antonio J. Mendez and the article “Escape from Tehran” by Joshuah Bearman)
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Tony Mendez: Ben Affleck
Jack O’Donnell: Bryan Cranston
Lester Siegel: Alan Arkin
John Chambers: John Goodman
Ken Taylor: Victor Garber
Bob Anders: Tate Donovan
Cora Lijek: Clea DuVall
Joe Stafford: Scoot McNairy
Lee Schatz: Rory Cochrane
Mark Lijek: Christopher Denham
Kathy Stafford: Kerry Bishé
Hamilton Jordan: Kyle Chandler
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.