Thursday Night Movie Club
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Release Date: 12 October 2012

Director: Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck
Bryan Cranston
Alan Arkin
John Goodman
Victor Garber
Tate Donovan
Clea DuVall
Scoot McNairy
Rory Cochrane
Christopher Denham
Kerry Bishé
Kyle Chandler
Chris Messina
Zeljko Ivanek
Titus Welliver
Tony Mendez
Jack O'Donnell
Lester Siegel
John Chambers
Ken Taylor
Bob Anders
Cora Lijek
Joe Stafford
Lee Schatz
Mark Lijek
Kathy Stafford
Hamilton Jordan
Robert Pender
Argo movie poster 1 Argo movie poster 2 Argo movie poster 3
Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in ArgoBen Affleck may not be the best actor Hollywood has ever known, but in Argo, Affleck makes a definitive statement that he has developed into one of the better directors currently working.

Argo tells the story of the daring rescue of six Americans who escaped the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in 1979. The film is taut, direct, suspenseful, poignant and, at times, funny.

Tony Mendez (Affleck) is a C.I.A. extraction specialist who is part of a think-tank to devise a method to rescue the stranded Americans who have taken up refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador (Victor Garber). Mendez quickly points out all of the flaws with other possible solutions. While watching "Battle of the Planet of the Apes" on TV one night with his estranged son, Mendez comes up with the idea to create a fake movie. Posing as a Canadian film crew, Mendez can infiltrate Iran and rescue the Americans under the ruse of scouting film locations.

John Goodman and Alan Arkin in ArgoMendez and his supervisor Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston) put their plan into action by contacting Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman). Chambers' knowledge of Hollywood leads the team to film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). Siegel immediately adds credence to the film production.

Things get complicated rather quickly. In order to sell the story to the Iranians, they must first sell the story to Hollywood. What film should they make? Due to the recent success of "Star Wars", a science fiction movie is their best option. Every one in Hollywood is jumping on the bandwagon. Mendez comes across the perfect script. The movie is named "Argo". The funniest scene in Argo is Siegel's expert con job to purchase the rights to the script for a mere $10,000. Alan Arkin shines in this brief scene.

Every aspect of an actual film production must be created, down to the smallest item. Office space, business cards, telephones, posters, costumes, actors, storyboards are produced. The trio arrange a lavish party where the actors, in full costume, will read through the entire script for Hollywood journalists. The end result is the film "Argo" is being reported on by media outlets all over the world, including Iran.

The Houseguests meet with Tony Mendez in ArgoThe clock is ticking! The Americans must remain indoors at all times. Any breach will result in immediate capture and execution. The Iranians will eventually realize that there are six Americans who are unaccounted. They are frantically piecing together shredded documents that will identify the missing people. The Canandian Ambassador has an Iranian servant who can call the authorities at any moment. Even the six Americans are sceptical of Mendez' plan. Making matters worse, the American authorities have pulled the plug on Mendez' plan the day before Mendez is scheduled to bring the Americans home. The American "Houseguests" will be found out. They will be executed. Mendez has no choice but to go ahead with the mission... and hope everything goes according to plan.

Much of the story of Argo revolves around Mendez. As an actor, the movie falls on Affleck's acting, which isn't very good. Conversely, Affleck's acting is apptly suitable for the roll he plays. Mendez isn't cool, suave and sophistocated. He is merely posing as a film producer who goes through the motions of getting all of the paperwork completed with the proper Iranian authorities. Mendez/Affleck needs to be convincing but not give out too much information. He must remain passive throughout the mounting chaos in order to keep a calm ship.

The fake film crew gets down to business in ArgoThe supporting cast in Argo elevate the film. John Goodman and Alan Arkin are seasoned actors who appropriately play film people. As Chambers and Siegel, they both know how "phony" the film-making culture is and they can easily manipulate Hollywood into climbing onboard the "project". Goodman and Arkin provide most of the comic relief in Argo.

Bryan Cranston is excellent as Jack O'Donnell. O'Donnell covers the story from the U.S. Authorities' point of view. He performs as spies are trained to perform. He lies his way into contacting the appropriate authorities to sanction the purchase of plane tickets. Cranston keeps things organized and moving forward despite every obstacle in his path. Cranston's best moment comes as O'Donnell and Mendez are explaining their plan to the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary asks if this is the best plan. Cranston replies without much hope or conviction, "No, this is the best idea out of a long list of bad ideas."

The fake film crew sells their stoy at the airport in ArgoThe six actors portraying the "Houseguests" are all wonderful. After Mendez explains the plan, the six have a heated debate on how to proceed. Only when they realize that death will find them no matter what they do do the "Houseguests" reach a concensus. They decide to follow the story.

From this defining moment in the film, Argo becomes a non-stop nail-biter. The cover story of a film crew is so insane that it just might work. As every obstacle is overcome, the six people keep their emotions in check. They are not yet safe. The plot can go horribly wrong at any moment. They cannot relax even after the Swiss Air jet takes off.

Back at C.I.A. headquarters, the suspense is palpable. One assistant announces that the plane is airborn. O'Donnell, sitting on pins and needles replies, "Wait for it." The "stand-up-and-cheer" moment is a simple inflight announcement from the flight attendant, "We will be bringing around the drink cart as we have just left Iranian airspace." The six Americans are now officially free. Their reaction is restrained exhuberance. They avoid making a scene on the plane, yet their happiness is genuine.

Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio have crafted an excellent thriller seemelessly blending facts and the creative license of filmmaking. The cast is excellent recreating real-life events. Suspense runs through the entire film. No one truly believes the mission will be a success. There just aren't any other viable options. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!