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STUDIO Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME 120 minutes
– Feature Length Picture in Picture: Eye Witness Account
– Commentary with director Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio
– Rescued from Tehran: We Were There
– Argo: Absolute Authenticity
– Argo: The CIA and Hollywood Connection
– Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option
The Best Picture winner for 2012, and rightfully so.
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
Based on the true story of a CIA operation led by Tony Mendez to rescue six Americans from revolutionary Iran.
Argo is a magical film. I don’t mean that in the sense that it does anything terribly new or changes the way we look at cinema or anything like that. When I say that Argo is magical, I mean that it grabs hold of you for 120 minutes and doesn’t let go for a second. It’s the kind of film that reminds you why you love the movies in the first place. It’s best scenes are so full of tension that the eventual release is a feeling only reserved for the most well crafted of films. I’ve seen Argo many times, and it always manages to impress.
Unlike so many films based on true stories, Argo manages to stay engrossing and believable. We view the world through the eyes of CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), who is tasked with getting six Americans out of revolutionary Iran. After turning down multiple scenarios, Mendez decides to create a fake move and act as if the Americans are a film crew scoping out the location.
Adapting a true story like this one can be difficult for many reasons, mostly because what actually happened is less exciting than what studios want to see. So, films like Argo take liberties with the story they’re telling, usually yielding mixed results. Argo pulls this off more gracefully than most, making some smart changes that end up serving the flick rather well. Almost everything that makes Mendez and the American’s escape from Iran so enthralling is made up for the big screen version of the story.
Truthfully, the Canadians had a much bigger hand in the whole affair than we’re shown here, meaning it was actually a fairly safe escape from the country. While this would probably still make for an interesting documentary, that’s not what Affleck and his team were going for, and by taking liberties with the story have managed to create on of the most intense finales in recent memory. Yes, there are a ton of “are they gonna make it” scenes towards the end, but they all work together to create a release that’s simply cathartic. Much of the credit must go to the film’s editor, William Goldenburg, who does some really great work throughout the flick.
One of many smart decisions that Argo makes is not dwelling on the nature of the war too much. Yes, we’re shown the threat to our American refugees early on, but once the Argo script is decided upon, Hollywood takes over. Argo is a film about film, which I love, but the best part is that it shows the industry as it truly is. The men at work here are attempting to make a film for nothing, so they end up using every trick in the book to swindle and lie their way into getting this film produced. By the time we arrive at a script reading for a movie that’s never going to be made, you’re practically forced to enjoy the ride.
The reasons this middle portion of the movie works so well are supporting actors Alan Arkin and John Goodman. Both men deliver award-worthy performances, with Arkin’s being one of my favorites from last year. These two have so much fun lying and cheating their way around Hollywood that I simply couldn’t get enough of them.
I’m not trying to belittle the more politically based scenes in the movie, as these work as well. Despite the outcome of these events being well know, the film still manages to keep the intensity high throughout. Most of this is thanks to director Ben Affleck, who is obviously at the top of his game here. While Affleck doesn’t do more than simply be Ben Affleck while in front of the camera, his work behind it shows a talent far beyond his years. He may not have directed many movies, but the ones he has helmed certainly prove that he is a force to be reckoned with in the medium.
The real reason Argo fares so well with such a large audience is that it’s downright entertaining. Even if you don’t really care for politics, Affleck has crafted a film that demands you care about the outcome, even if you already know what it is. I found myself having to catch my breath by the time the thing was done the first time, and each subsequent watch has only made me appreciate the film more. After receiving so much great buzz and winning Best Picture, those of you who are going to see this probably already have. If you’re still holding for some reason, I recommend that you finally give in. You’ll be glad you did.
Warner Home Video didn’t hold back with this release. The transfer is impeccable, and the audio track is superb. The film may not be terribly showy, but it still looks great on a big setup.
The special features here are all super informative, but some are certainly more worthwhile than others. The commentary is very good, and Affleck obviously has a lot of love for the project. Absolute Authenticity is also a must watch for those that want a bit more information on how the world of the film was put together. Everything else on the disc will satisfy history nuts and those who are interested in the story the film was based upon. Personally, I’d like a bit more behind the scenes footage, but what we have here is certainly a full package that meets the quality of the film it accompanies.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars