I don't usually go out of my way to see political thrillers. If I catch them on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I'll end up liking most of the ones I watch. "Argo" is one of those movies I would have passed up watching had it not been for one catch. The idea of the government using the making of a fake space / fantasy film to free hostages from Iran intrigued me. Once again, I'm very glad I listened to my instincts and took it in.
In 1979, six Americans are put in hiding by the Canadian Embassy when the U.S. Embassy is raided in Iran by militants. Everyone else in the building is taken hostage. The U.S. government decides to take the unconventional advice of CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to get the six diplomats out of the country. He will enter Iran and smuggle them out as a group of filmmakers scouting for shooting locations for a fake science fiction / fantasy film entitled "Argo."
Ben Affleck continues to surprise me. He's always done his own thing in Hollywood. He'll do smaller films playing less conventional characters like "Dazed and Confused," "Mallrats," and "Chasing Amy." The next thing you know he's taking the lead in blockbusters and popcorn flicks such as "Armageddon," "Daredevil," "Pearl Harbor," and "The Sum of All Fears." Affleck's had his share of stinkers and received some unwanted attention in the tabloids as well. What actor hasn't?
One thing Affleck has done is prove he's a versatile talent in Tinseltown and isn't going away any time soon. He won an Oscar for his "Good Will Hunting" script and continues to collect awards for "Argo." The movie is nominated for an Oscar for "Best Picture" and it deserves the honor.
"Argo" appealed to me in so many ways. I was born in 1972 and was completely caught up in "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and "Planet of the Apes" fevers. A movie based in that time period about people making a fake sci-fi movie as a front to save hostages is captivating.
Add to that the fact that award-winning "Planet of the Apes" makeup artist John Chambers helped the government get the hostages out of Iran. I remember seeing the news broadcasts about the hostage situation as a boy, but I didn't understand what was going on at the time. The whole event is interesting to learn about.
The audio and video transfer for the Blu-ray version of "Argo" will please consumers. The picture is clean with well-balanced color. The 5.1 surround sound mix immerses the viewer in the atmosphere of each scene.
There are quite a few interesting bonus features included. Audio commentary for the feature is provided by director Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio. "Picture in Picture: Eyewitness Account" contains interviews with the survivors of the Iran hostage crisis, President Jimmy Carter, Tony Mendez, Mark Lijek, Bob Anders, Cora Lijek, Kathy Stafford, Lee Schatz, USMC hostage Al Golacinski, and others involved in the events. Four featurettes entitled "Rescued from Tehran: We Were There," "Absolute Authenticity," "The CIA and Hollywood Connection," and "Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option" are included as well.
"Argo" is an exciting political thriller which will have you white-knuckled and gripping the edge of your seat. Director Ben Affleck did a great job keeping up the suspense and pacing in the film. Even though you know how it's going to end, you are still nervous for the characters as you watch. That's just good filmmaking in my book.