Customer Reviews: Argo [Blu-ray]
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon August 29, 2013
Most people, myself included, really enjoyed "Argo". If you don't already own the film, this Extended Edition might be the way to go. But if you already own the original blu-ray release, then is it worth an upgrade? Well, hopefully the details below will help you make a decision.

Included on the blu-rays:
- Theatrical Edition of the movie
- Extended Edition of the movie (an extra 10 minutes added to the film)
- 3 New Special Features + all the special features from the previous blu-ray release

Included in the box set:
- 40-page book premium featuring behind the scenes photos, production notes, bios and more
- Argo One-Sheet Poster (you know they are going to fold it to fit it in the box, so it will have creases right down the middle)
- Map of Tehran movie locations (14" x 20")
- Reproduction of Tony Mendez's CIA ID card

So if you enjoyed the movie, then you might want to consider picking this up. I'm interested in seeing if the extra 10 minutes of footage improves the film (not that it needs improvement); and with three all-new special features and the book/memorabilia from the film, this set might be worth it.



Brand New Features (exclusive to this blu-ray set):
1. Argo Declassified - Tony Mendez's daring operation gets honored as part of the CIA's 50th anniversary
2. Ben Affleck's Balancing Act - Balancing humor, politics, Hollywood and international intrigue as only Affleck and his team could do
3. Argo F*** Yourself - Ben Affleck leads an all-star review of Argo's classic line

Additional Features (from the old blu-ray release):
4. Picture in Picture: Eyewitness Account: Relive the takeover of the US Embassy in November of 1979 and the daring rescue mission in January of 1980 through the eyes of those that lived it.
5. Feature length audio commentary with director Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio
6. Rescued from Tehran: We Were There - President Jimmy Carter, Tony Mendez and the actual houseguests recount the real-life harrowing experience they endured.
7. Argo: Absolute Authenticity - From characters to heart-stopping action, Ben Affleck's eye and ear for hard-hitting realism and attention to exacting detail has become his signature as an A-list filmmaker.
8. Argo: The CIA & Hollywood Connection - Director Ben Affleck and former CIA agent Tony Mendez give a firsthand view of the actual documents and cover story used to create the phony movie Argo that had all of Hollywood believing in.
9. Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option - Escape from Iran commemorates the 25th anniversary of the "Canadian Caper," taking us back to this startling affair through the direct testimony of the Americans who found sanctuary at the Canadian embassy in Tehran, and the Canadians who risked their own safety to shelter their closest neighbors.
10. Tony Mendez on Tony Mendez - Former CIA agent Tony Mendez shares additional details and stories from the mission
11. A Discussion with the Cast of Argo - Ben Affleck joins Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Clea Duvall and Rory Cochrane for a live conversation about their experiences while making Argo
12. The Istanbul Journey - Ben Affleck shows us why Istanbul was the ideal place to shoot Argo
1414 comments| 77 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
"Argo" (2012 release; 120 min.) bring the story, based on true events but fictionalized for Hollywood purposes, of how CIA operative Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck) goes to Iran to help rescue 6 Americans who are holed up in the Canadian Ambassador's residence ever since Iranian fanatics violently took over the US Embassy compound. In order to get the 6 Americans out of Iran, Mendez proposes that they pose as Canadian film makers, who are in Iran scouting for appropriate locations to film Argo, a Star Wars-like adventure. When the various options and alternatives (foreign teachers? agriculture specialists? no, film makers!) are presented to US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, he looks incredulous, but when reassured about the various options available that "they are all bad ideas. but this is the BEST bad idea we have", Vance blesses the mission. In order to lend credibility to the idea that he is involved with this fake movie, Mendez and his Hollywood connections set up a fake film company, with a fake film production office, and a fake script, etc. Once in Iran, Mendez gets in contact with the Group of 6, and they are slowly but surely preparing to try and escape out of Tehran.

Several comments: first and foremost, this is a terrific, tense and rousing historical drama, the likes of which we don't get to see often enough anymore these days. In fact, the whole movie experience feels like the movie was made in the late 70s (check out the classic Warner Bros. logo that opens the movie). It is equally clear that a number of events were fictionalized in order to advance the drama in the movie (just to name one: the chase to the plane at the end is a complete fabrication but makes for tense viewing). Other missed facts are harder to understand (for example: at the beginning of the movie, the narrator states that the Shah was "installed by US and British forces in 1953" when in reality he had ruled since 1941 as successor to his dad).

This movie is a tour de force for Ben Affleck, who stars, produces and directs. The days of the "Bennifer" ridicule are long gone! "Argo" is his third movie as a director (after 2007's "Gone Baby Gone" and 2010's "The Town"), and it seems that Affleck is either incredibly lucky, or simply getting better and better with each movie. I'll bet on the latter. There are several other choice performances in "Argo", including Alan Arkin and John Goodman as the Hollywood connections providing the fake film production house, but also Bryan Cranston as Tony's CIA superior. In all, this is truly Hollywood at its very best: a smart, tense, engaging drama/thriller, proving once again that you don't need to have the world blown up in smithereens every 5 minutes to engage an appreciative audience. "Argo" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on November 24, 2012
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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on October 21, 2012
ARGO is a well-paced and well-acted movie that takes us back to a seminal moment in modern U.S. history, the 1979-1980 Iranian hostage crisis that ushered in the Reagan era. The film focuses on a little-known footnote, the so-called "Canadian Caper," in which six American diplomats bluffed their way out of Iran by posing as a Hollywood production crew scouting a location for a sci-fi film.

The film stars Tony Mendez, a CIA artist and technician (played by director Ben Affleck) who thought up the ruse. He enlists Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman), who won an Oscar for Planet of the Apes and also designed Spock's ears in Star Trek and had helped Mendez upgrade CIA disguises. Aided by a Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin), they mount an elaborate back story, complete with a script, storyboards, posters, and ads in Variety magazine for the bogus movie (Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light).

Although the larger landscape of the Iranian revolution is accurately presented, history buffs may be disappointed that the details of the operation itself are distorted almost beyond recognition. Affleck's character looms larger than life, while the American diplomats and their Canadian hosts are poorly developed cardboard foils for his heroics. This slant is not so surprising, given that the film is based on Mendez's 2002 memoir, The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA.

But it has earned the film the ire of Canadians, who say it trivializes their pivotal role in the rescue. Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), who harbored the fugitives and was instrumental in their rescue, is portrayed as a passive innkeeper taking orders from the CIA. In media interviews, he has called the film "total fiction" and "absolute nonsense."

Affleck has responded to this criticism by noting that, like many Hollywood productions, the movie purports to to be "BASED on a true story," rather than BEING a true story. "We're allowed to take some dramatic license," he reportedly said. "There's a spirit of truth."

The distortions do not end there. A second CIA agent who accompanied Mendez into Iran is absent altogether, as are all mention of a series of potentially fatal blunders by Mendez and the CIA. For example, the CIA map showed the incorrect location for the Canadian Embassy where the agents were supposed to meet their contacts. And on the morning of the escape, Mendez actually overslept, according to accounts of the rescue released after the CIA declassified it in 1997.

The actual exit was also far less dramatic than portrayed in Argo. As described by Mendez in a lengthy narrative on the CIA's official website, the departure went as "smooth as silk"; "The Iranian official at the checkpoint could not have cared less" about the group's paperwork as he stamped the fake passports and exit visas that allowed them to escape onto a waiting Swissair flight (that was delayed due to a minor mechanical problem, not depicted in the film).

Still, While Mendez is overly glamorized in Argo, the CIA is not. The agency is portrayed as willing to sacrifice the diplomats in order to avoid potential international embarrassment.

Shane Bauer, one of three American hikers taken hostage by Iran in 2009, tweeted another flaw, regarding its depiction of the Iranian people: Every Iranian except the maid and the Shah loyalists in the embassy lobby are depicted as "thugs or part of an angry mob."

Yet despite - or perhaps because of - all of its distortions, omissions and biases, Argo still works. It is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that is both entertaining and historically relevant. I recommend it.
1818 comments| 172 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 7, 2013
The story is very exciting and I love the self effacing humor Hollywood does on itself. If you love tension and excitement based on a real life story (with some fiction added) you will enjoy this movie.
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on March 18, 2013
Argo is Ben Affleck's third movie he has directed and he is 3 for 3. This movie deals with the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis in which Iranian revolutionaries stormed the American Embassy and took everyone hostage, but six managed to escape. The movie focuses on getting those six out before they are captured and executed.

The movie begins with a brief history of the region, and how the US and British government had controlled the country and its resources for decades until Iran revolted and forced the Western designated Shah out, but now demanded he return and face punishment. After taking the embassy the CIA comes up with a plan to get the six out. Tony Mendez, the operative who orchestrated the plan, comes up with an idea to create a fake movie and have the six pose as film crew and ultimately get out of the country.

The acting is very solid, Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston do great jobs as the CIA agents fronting this mission. John Goodman and Alan Arkin are also great as the movie producers fronting the fake movie.

The last half hour of this film is very intense and nerve wracking, and it will have you on the edge of your seat. All said and done this is a fast two hour movie that is never boring. Do give this movie a view if you want to watch a great thriller.
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on March 24, 2015
Had to know how to rate this. On the one hand, I'd would like to give it 3.5 stars. It's entertaining. Not great, but as movie-making from the Hollywood cookbook goes, tastier than average. Has a couple of memorable lines, like "This is the best bad plan we've got."

On the other hand, I'd like to give it NEGATIVE 3 stars, because it doesn't have the nerve to tell more than about 49% of the truth.

For one thing, while they were remarkably successful in casting actors who look (or were made to look) like their real-life counterparts, Ben Affleck cast himself as Tony Mendez, despite the fact that he doesn't look a thing like Tony Mendez. It's almost a perfect example of the difference between American and British film making: a good British filmmaker would have cast some great actor who has the same troll-doll look that the real Tony Mendez had. A hero who doesn't look like a hero: now THERE's an idea ahead of its time! (The exchange in the movie where the Canadian ambassador is surprised that the Mendez character doesn't look like a "G-Man" is amusing — Affleck responds politely, "I think you're thinking of the FBI" — but it's not as funny as it could be, because "G-Man" is kind of a synonym of "hero" and Affleck looks exactly like a hero. The beard doesn't make him any less of a model and he simply isn't a good enough actor to act as ordinary as the real Mendez must have done.

And they do the same thing with the story. The truth is not so much more complicated that they couldn't have stuck to it — if they'd been willing to jettison the absurd chase scene at the end. I hardly knew how I was supposed to react to the chase scene. Did Affleck know that I already know that it didn't happen and is he cleverly poking fun at himself, as if to say, "I know this is utterly false but let's do it anyway and we'll all have a good laugh?" It didn't FEEL that way. Instead it felt to me like the writers thought that, without a final scene with soldiers in a couple of jeeps chasing a jet on the runway, the story just wouldn't be interesting enough, wouldn't ring true. It's an insult to viewers. And to me, it's a sign that the writers have no imagination, that they can't actually take a great story and tell it well. Remember, they didn't have to make this story up at all: they had it handed to them, and then they set about "improving" it. They don't even have the basic judgment to recognize a fantastic story when they see it. They even added a totally superfluous, time-wasting cliché love story (about the estrangement of Mendez and his wife at the time).

The movie also creates the false impression that the contribution of the Canadians consisted mainly in the ambassador's allowing the six Americans to hide out in his house for a couple of months, when in fact, the Canadians were very actively involved in conning the Iranians. There's almost no hint of that, and that's a shame.

So the facts are wrong, but the scenery and costuming are authentic, and hey, it's goes good with popcorn. Why is it in Hollywood that the only people who actually care about the truth are the makeup artists, set builders and costumers? It's because most of the audience doesn't care about the truth any more than the directors and the writers.
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on February 12, 2013
I can't understand why I feel so differently from everyone about this movie. All I heard were good things, so despite a very average trailer I rented Argo. It was indeed as average, as cliche, as contrived as I expected. We all know the ending, but I was assured that it would still be suspenseful and gripping. It was not. I'm sure all the things that happened on the tarmac are made up. I'm sure the ringing and ringing and ringing telephone at production offices was made up. All these amateur devices to pep up the story and play to American audiences, the strange and incomplete story about Affleck and his family (it seemed like they wanted to go somewhere with it and then abandoned it), the exaggerated hair and make-up - it was all so . . . did I already say amateurish? I cannot believe this country or the Hollywood community might actually take this film and bestow upon it all accolades that I strongly feel should go to Lincoln.
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on March 10, 2013
Finally a movie with substance, inspired by true events and inspirational. It gave me sense of the good in Americans and the fact that there are good people in our government who are willing to take risks to help others and have the courage to do the right thing, gave me inspiration and hope. What made this movie so wonderfully entertaining was also the fact they didn't have to use curse words in every sentence or sex, nudity and depravity to make a great movie that was pretty awesome, inspiring, entertaining, humorous and wonderfully good to watch. The directors, producers, script writers etc of this movie just proved that great movies can be made without all the cursing, sex, occultism and gory violence that is pushed down our throats everytime we look for entertainment...Why can't 90% or more of our movies inspire our families like this instead of the other way around? Hollywood, take care of the next generation what they learn and see in movies is what this nation will become in the future..lets give our children some good nourishing mind food...
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on March 7, 2013
I wasn't expecting much from this movie. Affleck has his history, but I was totally and pleasantly surprised by the directing, the acting and the story behind the rescue of six hostages in Iran in 1979 during the hostage crisis. I remember how the Canadians got all the glory. But who knew what really was going on in the background? Great movie!!
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