"Riveting but Gratuitously Profane"
ARGO tells the strange but true story of how one CIA agent, with help from the Canadian ambassador and his household, helped get six Americans out of Iran during the hostage crisis under President Jimmy Carter in 1980. ARGO is a truly riveting, uplifting, mostly patriotic spy thriller laced with some funny comedy, but there’s plenty of strong foul language and some politically correct in one sequence that undercuts the movie’s patriotism.
ARGO is Hollywood’s attempt to deal with the hostage crisis in Iran under President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and 80. It tells the story of a little remembered, but exciting, incident during that crisis. The movie itself is very well done and riveting. Regrettably, there’s plenty of gratuitous, strong foul language. There’s also an opening and closing voiceover that’s rather politically incorrect 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.
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.
(BB, PP, PC, RH, AP, Co, LLL, V, N, A, D, M) Strong moral, patriotic worldview marred by some distorted, politically correct revisionist history in one short opening sequence that comes across as Anti-American, and man quotes Karl Marx comment that history is first seen as tragedy, then as farce; 42 obscenities (mostly “f” words with some “s” and “h” words), eight strong profanities, two light profanities, and obscene gesture seen in a photo; light violence but with many tense moments includes people storm American embassy (including smash windows), man burns American flag, people take embassy staff hostage, pushing and shoving, violent arguing that could erupt in violence, implied threats of violence, two long distance shots of man who’s been hanged from crane, soldiers bang on windows and doors then shoot out window after realizing they’ve been duped, many menacing Iranian soldiers with guns; no sex; upper male nudity and women in slightly skimpy science fiction outfits at press event; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying related to spying to free people trapped in a hostile country and elderly man calls ex-wife a witch, metaphorically speaking.
ARGO is Hollywood’s attempt to deal with the hostage crisis in Iran under President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and 80. Six American diplomats have snuck out of the American embassy as the Muslim extremists took control. They are hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s home. A CIA “exfiltration” expert comes up with a plan to fly the six Americans out of Iran. He will create fake documents showing that they are all part of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for his science fiction movie. The agent’s boss agrees it’s a bad plan but says it’s the best bad plan they’ve got.
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.