*** (out of four)
It’s not easy to make a reality-based, political,
In his first directorial effort not set in Boston,
In late 1979, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) leads a rescue mission in Tehran when six Americans escape the U.S. embassy before rioters bust in as part of a protest to bring the ailing former leader Shah Reza Pahlavi back from exile in the U.S. to be tried and hanged.
No one would call Tony’s plan conventional. With help from Hollywood insiders (
Affleck’s previous directorial efforts overflowed with emotional involvement, but “Argo” ping-pongs between funny and dramatic without allowing us to know its main characters especially well. The internal discussions that result in decisions and changes of plan within the CIA and state department fail to clarify many questions. Instead we get repeated comments about the operation’s small chances for success and arguments with lines like, “I want you to do your [bleeping] job!”
The action in “Argo” may not crackle like that of “The Town,” but this is a historical event and not an action movie, even if at times Affleck labors to turn “Argo” into one. He delivers a quick, entertaining two hours, offering unembellished heroism and loads of tension while our country works to protect its own without compromise or violence.
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