Riveting but Gratuitously Profane
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston,
John Goodman, Alan Arkin,
Victor Garber, Tate Donovan,
Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy,
Rory Cochrane, Christopher
Denham, Kerry Bishé, Kyle
Chandler, Chris Messina,
Philip Baker Hall
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures/Time
Director: Ben Affleck
Executive Producer: David Klawans, Nina Wolarsky,
Chris Brigham, Chay Carter,
Graham King, Tim Headington
Producer: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck,
Writer: Chris Terrio
Address Comments To:Jeffrey L. Bewkes, CEO, Time Warner
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (New Line Cinema)
Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
ARGO opens with a voiceover telling viewers how evil America’s foreign policy toward Iran was before the Muslim fanatics took it over in 1979. The voiceover sounds like the Anti-American, pro-communist revisionist history that the left, including the Democratic Party leadership and its neo-fascist education establishment, has been promoting since the 1960s, if not earlier.
After this bogus history lesson, the real story begins. The angry Muslim fanatics storm the American embassy in Tehran, demanding the return of the Shah so they can hold a show trial. As the fanatics take the hostages, six embassy staff members, including two married couples, escape and are given secret refuge in the Canadian ambassador’s home.
The State Department calls in the CIA for help in coming up with a plan to get the six Americans fake passports and documents so they can leave the country. Agent Tony Mendez wracks his brain. For years, he’s been working with a Hollywood makeup man on creating disguises for agents and Americans overseas in similar situations. One night, while watching one of the PLANET OF THE APES movies, he decides the best way to free the six Americans is to pose as a Hollywood producer scouting locations in Iran for a science fiction movie. The State Department officials think the plan is crazy, but Tony reminds them that there are really no foreign exchange programs in Iran under the mullahs that could create adequate cover for the American diplomats. Tony’s boss agrees that it’s a bad plan but says it’s the best bad plan they’ve got.
Tony goes ahead with his plan and works with the makeup artist, who hooks Tony up with an older producer who knows how to sell the idea. They find a hokey science fiction script, called ARGO, about a rebellion in a desert company. After creating some fake publicity for the fake movie, Ton travels to Iran and secretly meets with the six Americans. They are really skeptical about the plan, but they decide to go ahead. At the last minute, however, President Carter and his advisors become scared about the presidential campaign against Carter that Sen. Ted Kennedy has decided to wage in the Democratic primaries. They decide to halt the plan in favor of a commando raid into Iran. After all his hard work, will Tony go along with the politically motivated cancellation?
ARGO is a truly riveting spy thriller. It has many tense moments. It also has some really goofy humor, despite the serious situation. Ben Affleck does a superb job of directing ARGO. His performance as Tony, however, seems too underplayed. A bigger problem with ARGO is the significant amount of foul language. The “f” word is tossed around very frequently to get a laugh. After a while, this becomes tiresome. The gratuitous foul language in ARGO also includes some strong profanities.
The main story in ARGO is rather Pro-American. However, the politically correct revisionist history in the opening narration undercuts that a little bit. Also, a perplexing reflection from President Carter in the end credits actually contradicts the movie’s point that Carter’s attempt to change the plan to free the six Americans was politically motivated. Of course, nothing is said about how Ronald Reagan’s defeat of Carter in 1980 was the reason why the rest of the American hostages were finally released.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for these problems in the movie’s opening and closing and especially for the strong foul language.
Based on a true story, ARGO is very well done. It’s a truly riveting, uplifting spy thriller laced with some funny comedy. Regrettably, there’s also plenty of gratuitous, strong foul language. Also, an opening and closing voiceover is rather politically correct and even Anti-American. The rest of the movie, however, seems pretty Pro-American. Perhaps the filmmakers got scared that viewers might come away from the movie feeling too patriotic. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for the strong foul language in ARGO.