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Wick's Review

Created Oct 18, 2012 07:56AM PST • Edited Jul 07, 2015 10:58PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Two political movies were released this third weekend before the Obama retention election – one on heroic capitalism, the other recreating a little known cloak-and-dagger success during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, an otherwise dismal chapter in American history. The second movie – Argo – is the great one.

    Tense and funny, it’s nothing less than a Great American Movie, three decades removed yet timely as hell.

    How timely? George Clooney and Ben Affleck – Left Wing royalty – premiered their movie1 exactly one month after the September 11th sacking of the American Consulate in Benghazi, a fact so freighted with ironic symbolism it needs Atlas to hold it up.

    Atlas shrugged. Oops, that’s the other movie. This one certainly doesn’t help Obama’s reelection prospects. Will it doom them, as Carter’s Iranian Crisis doomed his? That depends on further Libyan revelations.

    Speaking of shrugging, Affleck damn near shrugs through his opus, shaking his shaggy 70s hair and rocking his magnum bod. His laidback performance belies his directorial triumph however. Indeed, the knowledge that Argo’s tremendous thrills lead to a happy ending makes it a superb movie experience.

    More significantly, Argo highlights the damage done by a weak and erratic American President, making it politically potent and tremendously entertaining. The Obama campaign can’t be pleased with the compare.

    1 Clooney and Affleck are producers, but only Affleck appears in Argo. He also directs the movie.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Ben Affleck’s 200 lbs look like they spend three hours a day in the gym. You don’t have to be much of an actor at that point. That said, he does the great Tony Mendez proud. First rate American hero stuff.

    He’s assembled a great cast around him. Highlights abound:

    • Bryan Cranston as his hard-nosed boss. Funny.
    • Kyle Chandler as Hamilton Jordan, Jimmy Carter’s photogenic chief-of-staff. Chandler’s a star.
    • John Goodman as the real John Chambers. Not the one who runs Cisco, the makeup artist who became Mendez’s right-hand man. Guy’s an American hero.
    • Alan Arkin as a fictional Hollywood mogul.
    • Victor Garber as the Canadian Ambassador.

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Ben Affleck the Director is a massive success, from choice of topic to the bravura recreation he brings to it.

    Indeed, he gives us Tehran like you’re right on top of the city, snowcaps in the distance, teeming market, crazed testosterone, etc. – all in the midst of history’s most consequential contemporary revolution. Affleck’s film recreates the entire horror, albeit with “Some scenes fictionalized” the credits warn.

    Actually it seems most scenes were fictionalized. Not that all were fiction, just fictionalized. Thus the hero and his charges are perpetually one step from capture and torturous death throughout the movie.

    Fictionalized yes, but delivered with impressive verisimilitude. Bravo.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Great 4.0

    The mostly true story is made for the movies. The so-called Canadian Caper involved six State Department staffers who escaped from the overrun American Embassy in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Holed up in the nearby Canadian Embassy, they are ultimately rescued by an intrepid CIA agent – Tony Mendez – who creates an elaborate ruse. Pretending to be a Hollywood producer, he convinces the Iranian revolutionaries that he’s scouting desert locations for a SciFi movie called Argo and that the six apparent Canadians are his crew, thus enabling them to fly out on a commercial flight.

    Into this tense story, much humor is imparted, e.g., Argo Fuck Yourself. Funny, very funny.

  11. Music Really Great 4.5
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.6

    Islamist fervor is fearfully recreated in Argo. Summary executions, rabid mobs and lynchings make Affleck’s movie a real life horror show.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Brutal 3.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.6
  18. Glib 1.3

    Apparently the Hollywood bit was amped up for the movie. In particular, Alan Arkin’s mogul character is a cinematic invention. A very successful one at that.

    Movie reality aside, three observations about the underlying reality of Argo.

    • Tony Mendez – Affleck’s character – received the Intelligence Star for exfilling the six embassy personnel out of Tehran, making him one of history’s greatest CIA agents.
    • Affleck’s take on US-Iranian relations goes overboard in representing Iranian grievances, especially given that prosecution of those grievances ended up resting with Islamist theocrats. Poor Iran went from the Shah’s frying pan into the Ayatollah’s fire. Thirty years on, that Islamist fire is threatening to go nuclear.
    • Affleck protects his Democratic Party position by never mentioning that the Iranian Hostages were released the morning Ronald Reagan assumed the Presidency, a lesson about American strength.
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.4
  20. Biological Glib 1.2
  21. Physical Glib 1.2


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