{2jtab: Movie Review}

Argo - Movie Review


5 Stars

The Oscar for Best Picture is going to be a tight one. If Ben Affleck’s Argo is any indication of the type of films we are going to see this awards season, the race is also going to be a tough one. Argo doesn’t bait audiences with obvious Oscar touches yet it produces powerful scenes, one right after another, and that adds up to one hell of a motion picture. It is, in fact, a picture to be admired. No longer can we act surprised by Affleck’s directing efforts. With the release of Argo, audiences and critics alike, from now on, will expect them to be nothing short of exceptional. For his career, Argo is his game changer.

From acting to directing, Argo operates as a (a) a love letter to science fiction movies and (b) a docudrama about a national crisis, but in its heart of hearts Argo, complete with clear and purposeful direction from Affleck, is a prideful statement about the world’s – not just America’s - love for cinema.

Acting-wise, Argo is a powerhouse. From Alan Arkin’s spin on Lester Siegel to John Goodman as Planet of the Apes’ make-up guru John Chambers and finally resting on the shoulders of Affleck himself, Argo is stocked with gravitas excellence.  Even the hostages, who must learn Canadian facts and change their IDs, have performances that must be maintained as filmmakers. Through it all, believability wins over the farce of the CIA campaign to get them out of harm’s way. It is truly a remarkable movie-within-movie look at the dangerous reality of that tense situation.

Based on declassified CIA files, Argo is set firmly and authentically in 1979. Please note and appreciate the disrepair of the classic Hollywood sign and the use of Warner Bros use of the old-school Saul Bass logo as the film begins. The clothing is warm and the beards are thick. The film itself is heavily saturated and shot in such a manner as to look period authentic. Yet, it is the true tale about the rescue of the Embassy Six that dominates as the picture shifts in tone from docudrama to comic drama and back again. This is a fully engaged wheeling and dealing romp through the Central Intelligence Agency, Hollywood, and the streets of Tehran, complete with tight corners and even tighter artistry.

CIA-operative Tony Mendez (Affleck), armed only with Planet of the Apes inspiration and a Star Wars rip-off screenplay called Argo and a serious set of brass balls, plots and executes a rescue attempt of hostages in Iran.   It’s a plan that is so ridiculous that it must be true and it is; the best bad idea the CIA could come up with claims Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston in another winning performance as Mendez’s boss). The white-knuckle tension is to be expected as Mendez mounts a convincing fish out of water routine in two different territories: Hollywood and Tehran. With pressure from all sides, he must do the impossible: transform a group of crawlspace refugees into a believable movie-making production team from Canada and get them back to America safely.

Affleck’s Argo is anything but a fake production. This political thriller is empowered by a stunning tarmac chase sequence toward freedom that is punctuated by claustrophobic and paranoid beats as the plan’s loose threads are tugged on forcefully by Islamic fundamentalists. I dare you not to tense up, grab the armrests in fear, and applaud as the movie ends. I double-dog dare you. Yes, Argo is more about us right now then the America of yesteryear and, as all good movies do, it never announces itself as that. We discover it along the way. Some will and some won’t.

Intelligent and scathingly funny, Argo is an entertaining thrill ride that adult audiences aren’t likely to forget anytime soon. Affleck is so focused on the selflessness of his own character and the honesty of the picture that I believe he might not yet realize the potential this movie has to reach audiences and make an impact during awards season. He’s in complete control here and it shows; there’s not a hollow note to the film. This is elegance all the way.

Argo, dear readers, is the film to keep an eye on when it comes time for awards to be handed out.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Argo - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language and some violent images.
120 mins.
: Ben Affleck
: Chris Terrio
Ben Affleck; Bryan Cranston; Alan Arkin; John Goodman; Victor Garber; Tate Donovan
: Drama | Thriller
Based on a declassified true story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If I'm doing a fake movie, it's going to be a fake hit."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: October 12, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 19, 2013.

Synopsis: Based on true events, Warner Bros. Pictures' and GK Films' dramatic thriller Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis--the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Argo - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
5 Stars
Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 19, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), ThaiAudio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free

The highly-detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1) that is Argo’s transfer proves that Warner Bros is in love with Affleck’s film.  The picture comes with sharp, well-defined lines in the architecture of buildings and streets.  Stitching in the groovy 70s clothes, stylish hairdos, and the gaudy interior furnishings of the Canadian ambassador's home are crystal-clear and discrete. Facial complexions are revealing and lifelike, with visible pores and negligible blemishes during close-ups.  Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Water for Elephants) displays a palette of strong yellow, giving the film an aged feel that's fitting to the plot's setting and period.  Black levels are strong and minimally affected by the film's intentional look.  The sonic soundscape created by the film’s DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is much better than expected, making this a first-rate high-def presentation.



  • Screenwriter Chris Terrio sits down with director Ben Affleck to discuss the technical aspects of the filmmaking process and unorthodox way the storyboard process went.  While this is a good start to the supplemental material, this is not nearly as strong as the PiP experience (also included on the disc) and might be better skipped in favor of that Picture-in-Picture offering.

Special Features:

Argo, a Best Picture front-runner, and its historical roots get the full treatment here. The topper is a Picture-in-Picture feature containing interviews from most of the major players (including Mendez, then-President Jimmy Carter and former hostages), a 17-minute documentary with more interviews from the real-world players, and two additional documentaries covering the film’s devotion to authenticity. The Blu-ray also includes a 45-minute television special from a few years ago – Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option – and an interesting commentary from Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio. When coupled with an already fantastic movie, the extra features turn this Blu-ray into an absolute must-buy.

  • Picture in Picture: Eyewitness Account (120 min)
  • Rescued from Tehran: We Were There (17 min)
  • Absolute Authenticity (11 min)
  • The CIA and Hollywood Connection (6 min)
  • Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option (47 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}