Argo is an oddly unsatisfactory film for an Oscar winner. Directed by – and starring, in the lead role – Ben Affleck, it’s based on the real life story of how the CIA smuggled out a group of American embassy staffers from Tehran in the 70s under the guise of a Canadian film crew scouting for locations for a science fiction film.
The film is based on an article that Wired magazine did on the incident. The political back story behind the events leading up to the siege of the embassy staffers in itself is fascinating, and something that I’d watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel about many years ago. Sadly, this bastardised Hollywood version lacks in the kind of genuine suspense that both the magazine article and the documentary had. Where I feel Argo fails is that it tries too hard to add suspense to an already-tense plot by resorting to gimmickry of adding imminent danger, and in doing so hurts the story adding elements that are laughably and obviously fake. My other gripe is that although there are scenes where the dialogue is darkly comic, the effect is spoiled by the fact that almost all the money-shot quotes of the film were already revealed in the trailer for the film, thus reducing their comic impact when you hear it back on-screen.
Perhaps my perception of Argo was clouded by my prior knowledge of the incidents in the film. I can imagine that for someone who isn’t in the same position, Argo could be a smart, funny, and dramatic piece of work that is quite unlike the sort you would typically expect from Hollywood.
Rating: 3.5 / 5