Argo poster

ARGO Glorifies Houseguests, History, and American Heroism

More by Kat McKay - 11/12


M ovies, typically, are not physical experiences.
Except for Argo.The Ben-Affleck-speared history thriller was laced with such intensity that it made me sweat. The whole theater was shaking, it seemed, and holding its breath, collectively, as the semi-true story unraveled.

In 1979, six Americans escaped from the US Embassy in Iran—which had been taken over by irate natives—to the Canadian ambassador’s house. Argo is the expo narrative that follows the CIA’s elaborate scheme to save them. This plan, hatched by real-life person Tony Mendez, involves creating a fictitious science fiction movie (Argo) and assigning film crew covers to each of the hostages.
Ben Affleck is the only lead actor with tabloid-scale fame, but it does not matter because every single character was cast excellently. The Hollywood execs, played by John Goodman and Alan Arkin (congratulations if you know who those people are) are crafty and amusing. On the other side of the spectrum, and the world, are the six “Houseguests.” Because they share the burden of representing circumstances instead of specific story lines, the actors who play those characters- four men and two women- are generally overshadowed.

Argo is not driven by its people, but by its plot and, as an extension of that, its patriotism. That being said, the script does not allow for great familiarity with any of the characters. But this isn’t necessarily a negative. Argo is not driven by its people, but by its plot and, as an extension of that, its patriotism.

It’s a very cool premise. Argo focuses on diametrically opposed facets of the American state: the military and Hollywood. So in addition to the main plot line of whether or not Affleck/Mendez and the Houseguests will escape, there is this undercurrent of cultural exploration. For that reason, and the tight script, Argo transcends its label as historic fiction and becomes something better. It’s tense, electrifying, and, best of all, real. The movie leaves you breathless, but celebrating: celebrating this country, camaraderie, and Canada.

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