Ben Affleck Turns Out Another Must-See with 'Argo'
Photo by Claire Folger via Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
This past Friday marked the release of Boston native Ben Affleck’s newest flick, Argo. The film takes place in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution, just after the overthrow of the former ruler, the Shah. In retaliation for Americans’ expressed support of the Shah, Islamic militants stormed the U.S. Embassy and took several people hostage. Six, however, managed to escape and fled to the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). While many Iranians took to the streets to show support for their new Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, as well as their growing hatred for America, the CIA was brainstorming a series of “bad ideas” on how to get the six people back home.
Affleck, who directed and stars in the film, plays Tony Mendez, a CIA specialist who comes up with a rather obscure and unfeasible idea—to make believe that these six escaped victims are a Canadian film crew, in Iran in search of an exotic location for their (fake) movie, Argo. His team, including his supervisor Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), at first dismisses the idea for being too foolish and risky, but Mendez soon convinces them otherwise. In seeking approval from the government, O’Donnell later presents it as “the best bad idea we have.” Nonetheless, they are given the green light. After contacting Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) for help, Mendez jets off to Iran to carry out his plan.
Argo succeeds in recapping an important period in American history alongside highlighting Mendez’s true mission, which, though Clinton declassified it years ago, likely remained unheard of until now. While the story in and of itself is fascinating, the film pieces it together in the most logical way. A brief synopsis of the years leading to the 1979 Iranian Revolution starts us off, and though it could have turned into an overdrawn history lesson, the backstory (as well as the rest of the film) proves engaging from the start. Almost immediately after, you are thrown in among the panicking soon-to-be American hostages. The tension is set, and from then on, you cannot look away. Hilarious one-liners provided mostly by Goodman and Arkin ease the mood at all the right moments, and the rest of the cast steals the show with exceptionally believable dramatic performances.
Our man Affleck delivers through and through, and if you have yet to rush out to see Argo, there is an endless amount of reasons to do so (Yes—it’s even worth seeing on a weeknight). While Goodman and Arkin’s characters jokingly insert the name “Argo” into a common (and crude) expression, I will instead leave you with this: Argo-and-watch-it.