Last week I saw that Warner Bros. had a giveaway for free tickets to see Argo. A movie about a CIA official who rescues 6 Americans from Iran in early 1980 based on a true story. Since the movie was already on my ‘movies to watch’ list I decided to enter and I won! So this weekend I went to see it and here are my thoughts.
The story is based on true events: in 1979 the Shah of Iran was overthrown and exiled by Ayatollah Khomeini. The Shah sought his refuge in the USA because it was the US who initially helped him to power. The Iranian people demanded he be brought back to Iran to be tried and executed. When the Americans decide to grant the Shah asylum, people are furious and go to the US embassy in Teheran to demonstrate. The demonstration gets out of hand and people storm the embassy imprisoning all employees present. All but 6, who flee to the Canadian ambassador without being noticed.
After a few months, the US government decides to start an infiltration mission to get the 6 diplomats out. In comes Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck): he works for the CIA and comes up with a crazy but definitely the most plausible option for getting these people out alive. They are to become a Canadian film crew who are in Iran to scout locations for a science fiction movie. To make sure the cover is airtight, Tony flies to LA to ask the help of a Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin) and make up artist (John Goodman). Together they find a script to a movie who fits the bill: Argo. Tony flies to Iran by himself and is supposed to come back with 6 extra film crew members.
And that’s all I’m gonna say about the story, because you definitely have to go see this. It is magnificent and mindblowing. It is historically accurate, has a great soundtrack and has a tension build up like I have never seen before. Some of the shots in the movie are based off real images that were taking during that conflict and all the cast members have been picked to look as much like the people they are supposed to be as possible. The clothes, the atmosphere, the way the world looks in the movie has you take a step back in time and makes you believe you are in 1979/ 1980.
The music only helps to complete the period picture and really adds to the movie. From Dream On by Aerosmith to Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits: there are a few well known songs in there, but there are also instrumental soundtrack pieces that underline the mood. The question, whether they will make it or not, is constantly looming over you head and especially in the second half of the movie my hands were sweaty and you simply pray that they will all make it.
That brings me to the plot: the story is simply amazing and amazingly well put. The movie starts with clearly giving you an idea of the time: what was late 1970/ early 1980 like? And it’s in very little things: TVs without remote controls, everyone and their mother is a smoker, and let’s not forget the clothes. Think suits with cigarette style pant legs, and blouses with pointy collars that have just a few open buttons. At the same time it shows the clash of two worlds: the absurdity of Hollywood vs the serious situation of the people who are to be rescued.
By the time Tony arrives in Teheran you are convinced of the seriousness of the situation and the tension builds up every scene. Not that you notice it at first. What’s so clever about the story is that it slowly creeps up on you. Slowly but surely you become aware of the fact that getting those people out isn’t only necessary, but also highly dangerous and pretty much doomed to fail. The movie isn’t jam packed with action, nor is it filled to the brim with jokes. There is the odd moment of comic relief when Tony is in Hollywood trying to get his fake movie together. There is even a scene where Ben Affleck shows off his bare chest without it doing anything for the story. Yet, it is interesting and engaging because the story is simply that good.
So, if you want to watch a seriously good movie that has you on the edge of your seat without car chases, gun fire or gory scenes, then this is definitely for you. You will not only be entertained, but you will also found out a bit more about an odd bit of American history. Win-win situation! Go see it!
Still not convinced? Watch the featurette/ trailer below: