Customer Review

133 of 160 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tense, intelligent, and even quite funny, November 24, 2012
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This review is from: Argo [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Ben Affleck continues to prove himself one of Hollywood'd best, most intelligent 'mainstream' film-makers. In Argo he manages to combine nail-biting suspense created with a minimum of violence or standard movie action, a sharp, dark sense of humor about the weirdness of both espionage and Hollywood, and makes a film about getting American hostages released from Iran without giving in to jingoism.

Affleck even takes the time at the beginning of the film to put the Iranian revolution into a larger context of prior American involvement and manipulation in Iran's politics, thus making the Iranians' hostage taking horribly wrong, but also somewhat human and understandable.

The story itself is a doozey, and definitely fits into the `you'd never believe it if it weren't true' mold. Using a fake movie as a cover-up for a long- shot rescue operation sounds like a bad episode of `Mission Impossible' (or even `Get Smart'). But here it is, a part of history.

I have only two small complaints about the film. First, other than Alan Arkin's and John Goodman's deliciously funny performances as the Hollywood end of the deal, not many of the other characters are given as much texture as they might, especially considering how strong the cast is. Perhaps the fear was slowing down the film with character details, but I would have gladly watched a few minutes more to know these people better on a human level.

More problematically there are a number of key moments where the suspense is trumped up needlessly by throwing in some very "Hollywood" conceits (coincidences, physical impossibilities, the real story of the climax being abandoned in favor of more overt dramatics, etc) in a film that didn't need them, a film where the whole point is how real world spy operations are miles from what we usually see in films.

Neither of these flaws seriously damage a very, very good film, but I couldn't help some minor disappointment when I felt the film go for the `movie moment' over truth. But this is still a highly entertaining and intelligent thriller, and that's to be applauded.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 8, 2013 4:10:44 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2013 4:11:44 AM PST
Jane says:
K. Gordon,

You're review was the one to make me stand by my rule of renting a movie first before deciding to buy it. I was going to buy this without renting but your problems with the movie made me decide to hold off buying and rent first. It looks like a good movie but if the other characters aren't that well developed as compared to the Tony Mendez character, I'm curious if Affleck wasn't trying to make a star-vehicle for himself. Especially since Affleck isn't even Hispanic. There are plenty of good Hispanic actors that could have played the part of Mendez.

You're other criticism that also made me think twice about the film was where they amped up the story for Hollywood conceits.

Thanks for a great review - and for saving me $24 if I don't like the film after renting it first!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 8, 2013 1:12:02 PM PST
K. Gordon says:
Hi Jane,

I'm glad the review was helpful. But, just to be clear, I don't think Ben Affleck was making this as a star vehicle. Even if it has some arguable flaws, it's a solid, well-made and intelligent film done by a very talented film maker. I actually felt Affleck's character was one of the ones that could have used more screen time. But in any case, I'm happy if I was of help. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 8, 2013 10:09:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 9, 2013 2:15:21 AM PST
Jane says:
K. Gordon,

Thanks for the clarification. I'll probably just rent it first and if I think I'll want to watch it again, I'll buy it when the price drops.

Again, your review was most helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2013 7:53:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 15, 2013 7:54:45 AM PST
film buff says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Apr 8, 2013 5:03:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2013 5:06:35 PM PDT
Solipso says:
The movie has much going for it. Specifically it adds visual and auditory stimuli that you will not get from the book. The major flaw with the movie, however, is that it grossly ficitionalizes many events in a movie that seems to be historical. And having read the book, Mendez's recent book ARGO: HOW THE CIA AND HOLLYWOOD PULLED OFF THE MOST AUDACIOUS RESCUE IN HISTORY, I believe Mr. Affleck's excuse that the movie was announced only as being BASED on fact, is a poor excuse. I found the factual narration in the book to be just as suspenseful as the movie. And because of two fictionalizations that were annoyingly silly--the last-second pickup of the ringing telephone in Hollywood and the Keystone Cops chase sequence on the runway--I think this movie deserves only four stars.

So why did it get Best Picture? Here is my suggestion: Academy members were not awarding the movie so much as they were awarding the real events. The hostage episode was an embarrassing affair. Argo, however, was a great success. It made the CIA, Americans, and Canadians feel proud, and Hollywood personnel took part in history.
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K. Gordon
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