Set during the Iran Hostage Crisis from November 1979 to January 1981, Argo follows Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck, also the film’s director) as the CIA agent tasked with planning the retrieval of six American diplomats taking refuge in the home of Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), the Canadian Ambassador to Iran. Using the “best bad idea” they have, the CIA send Mendez with forged Canadian passports and cover stories for the six, sneaking them out of Iran under the guise of a production crew scouting locations for the science fiction epic Argo.
When watching any kind of adaptation it is best to go in understanding that liberties will be taken. There is a lot missing from the events, such as Dennis Packer, the CBC cameraman who accompanied Mendez to Tehran. Some of the Canadian audience who remember the rescue might find this takes away from the impact of our own Government’s involvement. While this is an American story, there is respect paid to the role Ken Taylor played in a subtle but important scene between Garber and Affleck.
The film is excellently paced, especially when using news footage in the background of the breezier Stateside scenes when transitioning to the tense reality of Iran. The cast is top notch with competitive scene stealing chemistry between John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel, providing comedic relief and a mix of industry cynicism to Affleck’s subtly understated presence.
Is Argo Essential TIFF Viewing?
Argo is a very well told story with fantastic performances and an excellent balance between tense drama and light humor – often times in the same scene (thank you Bryan Cranston). But it will receive a major release, and there are many exciting films at TIFF 2012 that you may not be able to see for another year – even at home. If a political thriller is what you’re craving right now, look no further, but now is also your chance to greet the world at your doorstep. Or train stop.
Argo Screening Times
- Saturday September 8, 2012 at 11:00am in the Visa Screening Room (Elgin Theatre)
- Saturday September 15, 2012 at 3:00pm at the Visa Screening Room (Elgin Theatre)
More About Argo
Argo Production Gallery