Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 19, 2012

True lies

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:38 pm

October 19, 2012

Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan

Director: Ben Affleck

Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is simply a terrific movie. For his third outing behind the camera, after those excellent Boston-set thrillers Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck chooses this amazing story of one of the most improbable rescue missions in modern history…the kind of story you’d never believe, except that it’s based on true events.

Set during the Iranian revolution, the film opens in 1979, when Islamist militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. Six Americans managed to escape, and took refuge inside the home of the Canadian ambassador. This is the story of how these six frightened and desperate escapees were smuggled out of Iran in a daring and outrageous plan hatched by CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck himself), who created a fictional film, and had these six pose as the Canadian crew of this movie.

There are three very distinct storylines at play here – the ticking-clock tension of the six refugees in Iran, the machinations of the CIA and US foreign politics in Washington, and the comic relief in Hollywood where a make-up wiz (John Goodman) and a seen-it-all-producer (Alan Arkin) treat this fake movie as a real project. It’s a testament to Affleck’s remarkable directorial skills that he meshes the three tracks seamlessly to create a coherent and gripping film with a tone that alternates nicely between funny and suspenseful.

The acting is top notch from everyone involved. Affleck himself gives a low-key, well-nuanced performance as the conscience of this film; Bryan Cranston is superb as his no-nonsense CIA boss. But it’s John Goodman and Alan Arkin who get all the clever one-liners and all the best laughs as a pair of jaded movie veterans. A word here also for the excellent casting of the actors playing the six American escapees – you’re never given a back-story for these characters but they play their parts competently, and you can’t help rooting for them. In one of the film’s most tense scenes, where they navigate nervously through a busy market in Tehran, their fear is palpable, and you find yourself on the edge of your seat as a result. In the film’s race-against-time climax, you’re literally chewing your nails, hoping for their safety.

Argo takes some liberties with the truth, exaggerating certain incidents, and inventing characters who didn’t exist in the real story (Alan Arkin’s film producer is reportedly a creation by screenwriter Chris Terrio). But Affleck gives the film a lived-in, authentic feel with minute period details and dialogue that never feels scripted.

I’m going with four out of five for Ben Affleck’s Argo. You’ll come out feeling like you’ve just enjoyed a wholesome, satisfying meal. Don’t miss it.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. by far the best movie made by Ben Affeleck simply luvd it….Robert de niro’s “wag the dog” was of a similar theme but tis one was offcourse nonfiction…!!

    Comment by Deepak — October 20, 2012 @ 1:19 am

  2. Absolutely nailed it Rajeev !!! Ur reviews are always spot on…………Generally i see your reviews and then watch movie ,With Argo it was the other way around….Argo is exactly how you described edge of your seat stuff !!

    Comment by srinivas — October 20, 2012 @ 1:57 am

  3. sir wen will u gv 5 stars 2 any movie??? wen?? wat r ur expectations frm a movie 2 b a 5*??? reply plz

    Comment by rehan — October 21, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  4. definitely going for this after having this kind of review….

    Comment by ashish — October 21, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  5. at first look it may seems that it’s going to be a slow movie …….but it’s not…. awesome movie after a long time.

    Comment by Dhiresh — October 25, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  6. there is no dull seen in whole movie … affelck again made a great movies , his screenwriting has always beeen great … over all there is on eline fo it … “argo fu** yourself”

    Comment by saksham — December 9, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  7. REally a Nail biting End…. Loved it…

    Comment by Rahul Walawalkar — December 9, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

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