Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck provides another “convincingly” gripping and powerfully triumphant film in all aspects…well almost!


Warner Bros. Pictures in association Smokehouse Pictures and GK Films present…

Based on the memoir of an ex-CIA operative titled “Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA” published in 2000 and Joshuah Bearman’s Wired article “The Great Escape” which was released in 2007. The film Argo a.k.a. “Lord of Light” from Roger Zelazny’s 1976 novel who recently won Best Picture for the Academy Awards is a historical drama that depicts the story from the rescue of 6 US Diplomat hostages who were forcibly sheltered at the Canadian Embassy during the Tehran, Iran hostage crisis in 1979.

The man who “assisted” in carrying out the rescue mission was Antonio Joseph Mendez, a former CIA Operative who specialized in disguises and graphical work related to espionage. His talent gave him credit in the Technical Services Division and had tenure with the agency for 25 years. With his creativity and resourcefulness, he finally was able to provide a divisive plan to extradite the Americans from imminent danger with special thanks to the sci-fi film “Battle for the Planet of the Apes”.

Golden Globe and BAFTA Award Winner for Best Director Ben Affleck (Sum of All Fears) this guy has been hauling awards for the past few years! His diversity for juggling writing, directing and acting at the same time did much good for his career considering that his father had the same talent while working in Boston’s Theatre Company. His love for film making had earned him accolades left and right which even gave him bigger offers and projects to work with.

Ben managed to oversee the film’s intricate plot that makes it overwhelmingly intact but   “misinterpreted” in context. While creating a montage of news and media coverage’s key points taken place at the U.S. Embassy to the post hostage crisis reports. He was able to “at least” send a “semi-generalized” view in rapport to the public.

Another award winning quadruple threat George Clooney (Syriana) together with Grant Heslov (Catch Me If You Can) and the Director takes the lead in providing the finances needed to make this project come into fruition. While Best Screenplay was given to Chris Terrio (Damages) who even for the lack of experience helped paved the way for the script to take shape (not to mention its “obscurities”) as well for William Goldenberg’s “golden” efforts in editing 2 nominated films from the same year with a difference of a 3 month span in relation to their respective releases.

Together with some very talented supporting casts, Bryan Cranston (John Carter) as “forged” CIA Jack O’Donell and former co-star of Jennifer Garner (Ben’s wife) in “Alias” Victor Garber (External Affairs) who plays Canadian Ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor. To round it up, veteran Actors Alan Arkin (Escape from Sobihor) portrays fictional Producer Lester Siegel and John Goodman (Masked and Anonymous) is film make-up artist John Chambers. Now, actually 2 of these guys were not real, noting also how ironic for an organization to honor an award to someone who was not actually there seems farfetched and unfortunate!

Here’s the thing, in film making you need to device your own ingenuity and imagination in order for the story to be relayed to the audiences but more importantly when this is being based on true events, the facts should be straightened out plain and simple and at best convey this as closely as possible to what actually happened. This was the same scenario in Ridley’s Scott’s “Black Hawk Down” where a number of soldiers and scenarios were mashed up and sensationalized just to add levity to the intense framework of the story. Argo had the same scenario with too much publicity and criticisms that were thrown at the film and its producers stating the inaccuracies of how the story was told and also why were other countries such as UK, Switzerland and especially Canada were not given “enough credit” for their “initiative” and “crucial” contribution in the seeming cohesive caper. To add, there was no “crucial moments” considered in the imminent last minute escape more so in their actual departure from the airport.

Another aspect is that I have watched Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” which was based on actual events as well. In terms of getting swept away by the plot and narratives, it was slowly paced until it reached the inevitable climax but still had the necessary input to make the experience surreal in the perspective of the Director and Screenplay. But what I am trying to connect with this story is that both were great in their own way, had real element settings the difference was Ben and his crew had more visually concurrent turmoil and hostility where it had this overwhelming presence of people on both ends of the floor: one group filled with so much anger needs to validate the wrong doings of their former Ruler, bring him to court and be hanged while they still have to resort in killing people in order to accomplish this! On the other end, individuals in the middle of a crossfire fearing for their lives with just the clear intention of getting out of this country alive would just be an understatement.

We don’t need to argue how things turn out and who won and who didn’t. Important thing is we have the understanding certain people gave their time, effort and risking their lives in order to save others. Yes, there were inconsistencies, some important representatives were taken aside and a country was misinterpreted for their actions but this will not stop in the harboring of hatred just to compensate for justice and that is the real sad part of this story.  In finality, with words coming from Mendez’s given lines: “This is the best bad idea we have, sir.” and in response, frankly we still give a damn!


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