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March 4, 2013

Argo (2012)
Director: Ben Affleck
Actors: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin


Synopsis: Six US diplomatic stuff are marooned in Tehran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, so CIA man Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) devises an ingenious way of rescuing them by fabricating a Canadian movie shoot there.

Review: The subject matter of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the diplomatic relations between Iran and US are essentially a complete irrelevance to the mainstream, thriller aspirations of Argo. Beyond the opening five-minute voiceover and montage which gives an elementary political background to the situation that was unfolding in Iran – and even then, Affleck is only really including it for the ignorants among his audience, and as apologism against likely accusations that the film shows little interest in the Iranian political situation of the time – the rest of the film plays out in the broadest of broad strokes with Affleck employing a lowest common denominator stratagem that would make the most hackneyed of Hollywood filmmakers proud.

Affleck shows a staggering lack of curiosity in the ingredients to his story – mining them for the crudest of thriller effects (worried American faces hiding away in the Canadian embassy while the evil, heathen Iranians are baying out in the street, those Americans then running the gauntlet at the local bazar, before the climactic chase on the airport runway as the authorities realise right at the end how the Americans have outwitted them). The B-Movie subplot is equally ogled on for the most obvious of ironies as personnified in Alan Arkin’s clichéd, veteran director, and is full of cynical attempts at meek retro nostalgia and so-called industry truisms. Even accepting the relative commercial aspirations of the film, the depiction of the Iranians is so luridly one-dimensional and offensive, setting them up as a monotonic bunch of savage, crude, blood-thirsty stereotypes, more than a match for any fictional, cartoonish bunch of villains. By the end of the film, Affleck has failed to create a single character of note – each player is a cipher in service to the plot – and even the attempts to piecemeal some pathos onto his own ‘hero’ with a tokenistic unhappy marriage subplot (occasional wistful looks at his wedding ring and pictures of his son), do not ring true at all. That this movie won Best Picture at the Oscars to go alongside such moderate recent efforts like Chicago, Crash and The King’s Speech just goes to prove how awry the taste of the ‘Academy’ actually is. (March 2013)

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 4, 2013 3:55 pm

    Good review. Definitely seems like a flick that more people admire for being a really good, true story, rather than being a really good movie. It’s not a bad flick by any means, but not as perfect as many people are praising it as being.

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