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Year: 2012
Director: Ben Affleck

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Cast:

Ben Affleck (Tony Mendez), Bryan Cranston (Jack O'Donnell), Alan Arkin (Lester Siegel), John Goodman (John Chambers), Victor Garber (Ken Taylor), Tate Donovan (Bob Anders), Clea DuVall (Cora Lijek), Scoot McNairy (Joe Stafford), Rory Cochrane (Lee Schatz), Christopher Denham (Mark Lijek), Kerry Bishé (Kathy Stafford), Kyle Chandler (Hamilton Jordan), Chris Messina (Malinov), Zeljko Ivanek (Robert Pender), Titus Welliver (Bates)

Storyline:

In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and several Americans are taken hostage. However, six manage to escape to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador and the CIA is eventually ordered to get them out of the country. With few options, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez devises a daring plan: to create a phony Canadian film project looking to shoot in Iran and smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some trusted Hollywood contacts, Mendez creates the ruse and proceeds to Iran as its associate producer. However, time is running out with the Iranian security forces closing in on the truth while both his charges and the White House have grave doubts about the operation themselves.

Reviews:

I understand it may flatter US patriotism, or recall memories to those who remember the events and I don't even dispute Affleck's directorial and acting skills. However, this is a completely superfluous, empty and desperately predictable movie. The historical inaccuracy has been pointed out by several other reviews: no, things didn't happen that way, the Canadians deserve much more credit in that operation than this portrayal ever shows. Notwithstanding the role of the US in sustaining a puppet dictatorship during the Shah and actively interfering in a sovereign country's domestic politics for decades prior to the events. But this is only a secondary concern: historical accuracy is not the most important factor for a fiction, even when it's based on actual events. What I dispute is how incredibly shallow and predictable the storytelling is: cliché anonymous US CIA antihero agent with issues at home goes to a dangerous place, saves innocent lives, takes risks against orders, comes out victorious to reunite with his family. Who on Earth cares, seriously? And no, the fact that it's based on historical events - and therefore you can't argue with history - is not an answer precisely because the script takes so many liberties with the events. I don't care about the liberties taken with history but I care about the ability to portray convincingly the complexity of human emotions and relationships. There is none here. And make no mistake, a fictitious 2 min car chase at an airport is the closest you ll get to see some emotions (ie. anguish at being killed by the revolutionary guards). The characters come out of a cardboard factory, they have zero critical self-reflection about their own role in interfering with a foreign country's domestic affairs, total solidarity with each other and pure love for their partners. This is a Disney version of human psyche, a dishonest and partial historical account and a debauchery of time, energy and money ill spent. Affleck is an able actor and I hope will prove more convincing in his future efforts as a director, but what really baffles me is not the mediocrity of this film, it's the uncritical enthusiasm of so many for it.

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This is a great movie. The story, acting, pacing, editing, etc. was just fantastic. Affleck's directing was solid, and the suspense will keep you entertained right through to the last seconds. I loved it.

It did have one irritating thing, though, kind of a big one. It pointed most of the accolades to Affleck's character and the CIA. This really was not true. It was Ken Taylor and the Canadians who really pulled 'the Canadian Caper' off so successfully.

"When Taylor heard a few years ago that Mendez had sold movie rights to his book (which, to be fair, is much more generous than the movie about Canada's role), "I said, 'Well, that's going to be interesting.'...."The movie's fun, it's thrilling, it's pertinent, it's timely," he said. "But look, Canada was not merely standing around watching events take place. The CIA was a junior partner."

"The old postscript sent the message that, for political reasons, Canada took the credit. A sarcastic kicker noted that Taylor received 112 citations. The clear implication was that he did not deserve them."(Sept/Oct., 2012, thestar.com)".

So the USA does another revision on history here. I believe 'Argo' goes this far. Yes, it's based on a true story - the movie does it's best to allude that it sticks to technical accuracy. And it really does, in some ways. Historical pictures of flag burners, rioters, gate climbers, etc.. up against Argo film stills run by during the credits make it seem that the facts were adhered to down to the tiniest detail. In reality, it wasn't Tony Mendez or the CIA who were responsible for the success of this operation; actually they were barely there.

Since the movie premiered, Ben Affleck has added emphasis on the movie postscripts since then that gives kudos to the Canadians' role. This was after Ken Taylor politely complained, as a Canadian would tactfully do. But Affleck did this only after pressure from Taylor himself.

I can understand the need to spice up events to make them as exciting and entertaining as possible, don't get me wrong. But this film needs to let the audience know that more explicitly than it does, even after the changed postscripts.

Still, a really entertaining and riveting film, very well done, and easily worth seeing. As a matter of fact, don't miss it.

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