Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 14, 2012

‘Argo’ a thrilling tribute to historical suspense

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — History is without a doubt subject to constant manipulation by those who wish to set up their own agenda. So it comes as no surprise that we are constantly given information that otherwise concealed reality, be it revisions in text books or a movie about a side lost in the political scramble.

This particular dive into based-on-a-true-story land examines a what in many ways was the beginning of some of the more modern troubles in the Middle East and responses our government made to correct those errors. It’s a fascinating tale of how at least on one occasion the money grubbing tactics ingrained in the Hollywood machine could actually be used for good mixed with plenty of humor, suspense and resolution. “Argo” is not only entertainment gold deserving it in a statue award form or two, but a tale that reaches into one’s humanity and a lesson we can all take to heart.

The story is set in Tehran Iran in 1979 and is based in part on the real collapse of the US Embassy when militants there swarmed in retaliation for the country sheltering their recently disposed leader. While most of those working at the embassy are captured and held hostage, a group of six individuals are able to escape unnoticed and end up hiding in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber).

While a stalemate between America and Iran drags out over months, the CIA considers a series of plans to somehow sneak those in hiding out of the country, something resulting in no good ideas until field Agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) suggests something straight out of the film industry. An idea so insane it has to work, the plot hatched is to disguise them all as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction film with the help from industry giants like make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). Perhaps one of the most effective nail biters I’ve seen in a long time, audiences can’t help but feel their very nerves come apart as each encounter makes one wonder if it will be a fatal mistake.

Though we don’t get to know each of the characters who are hiding individually, as a group we relate to their fear and root for them to escape from what appears to be a never ending angry mob. To prevent us all from having a heart attack, it is broken up by a very well developed sarcastic wit with a few classic one-liners that helps when the nerves start getting wracked all over again.

About the only thing that hurts the film is that it does fall somewhat into painting most of the Iranians as classic motion picture bad guys, something not out of the ordinary in order to make it feel that much more dramatic. Other than that, it’s pure entertainment and while it might not be good to scare your pre-schooler with a showing, it could still be used in an educational setting and I recommend checking it out at least once. For making it well worth the effort and deserving of a salute to Mr. Affleck for escaping those depressing series of chick flicks for so many years, the verdict for “Argo” is four out of five capers.

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.