By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
A new thriller carries viewers back in time to the Islamic revolution in Iran, when American diplomats were taken hostage.
Six people escaped in the early going and found refuge at the home of Canada’s ambassador to Iran.
“Argo” is an intense and sometimes humorous account of how the CIA tried to get those six Americans out of the country without getting them killed.
It’s based on a true story, and though Hollywood has been known to play fast and loose with facts, “Argo” definitely gets across the crushing fear the Americans experienced during their escape from the embassy, their hiding in the ambassador’s house and their attempted escape from the country.
Director Ben Affleck plays a slow-burning CIA agent named Tony Mendez. He’s separated from his family, and clearly drinks and smokes too much. But he’s an expert at getting people out of hostile situations.
He’s called in to offer suggestions, and comes up with the “best bad idea” out there. A telephone call with his son inspires Mendez to concoct a plan that’s so crazy it just might work.
He connects with a Hollywood special effects artist (John Goodman), and he meets with a producer (Alan Arkin). Together, they find a script called “Argo” and go about the entertaining business of making a fake movie.
The machinations in both Hollywood and Washington, D.C., are at times funny, bizarre and deadly serious. Arkin and Goodman are perfect in Hollywood, and Bryan Cranston gives the CIA another human face as Mendez’s boss.
Most of the fun and games end when Mendez arrives in Iran, where he has to convince Iranian officials that the six Americans are actually Canadians who have come to the country to scout movie locations. It’s almost as hard for Mendez to convince the Americans that his plan has a chance of success.
This is a solidly entertaining film that takes the viewer through a range of emotions, while our guide, Mendez, stays even-keeled from start to finish. Even with Mendez’s calm demeanor, Affleck shows us the anxiety percolating through his mind.
I won’t give away the ending, though you might remember it, and Google is always available.
I give “Argo” an A minus.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson with Wizard 106.7 gives “Argo” an A.