Language : English.
Release : 2012.
Starring : Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber.
Directed By : Ben Affleck.
Written By : Chris Terrio, based on The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman.
Music By : Alexandre Desplat.
There are a lot of movies that have been ‘Based on True Events’, but only a few are able to transcend the boundaries of reality and erase the huge line separating reality and drama, while just to believe that it is inspired by actual events we would have to lie to ourselves, that such things are just a figment of imagination and could not have happened, just so we could watch the movie as a movie rather than thinking did these things happen for real? Argo is one such movie, which is so dramatic, that it is hard to believe that movies actually mirror realities.
Based on actual events, at the height of the Iranian-American hostage crisis, when 50 American embassy staff are taken as hostages by Iranian Revolutionists, six of them escape captivity and are sheltered in the Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor’s(Victor Garber) home. While keeping it a secret, the U.S. State Department starts to chalk out a plan to ‘exfiltrate’ them. When they run out of options, their exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez(Ben Affleck) conjures up an unusual plan for the escapees. A plan so surreal and so dramatic, that such things can happen only in movies. Getting them to pose as a Canadian film crew scouting for exotic locations for their upcoming sci-fi movie. While they somehow come up with a near perfect plot to convince the Iranian Government, they do have to face the consequences while executing their plan which also includes a final over-dramatic chase to end their anxiety.
Although the entire movie is a dramatization of real events, the final few minutes of the movie were dramatic by a magnanimous proportion. But being served by a healthy dosage of dramatic cinema by the Indian film-makers, I feel it to be more of an Indian movie, rather than a ‘Hollywoody‘ movie. That said, Ben Affleck ensured that the movie never went overboard which reflected in the way he controlled the screenplay and making sure the movie was completely gripping, like walking on a tight-rope, not too fast and not too slow, but at a pace to maintain balance, and when the end is near we take a few gasps and try to move faster, similar to the happenings in Argo, just when the end is near, it takes a deep gasp of drama and ends well.
As the movie was based on real life incidents, it had some real footage peppered in, to give the movie a more realistic appeal. Although when I started to read through the actual incidents, I found some really displeasing facts. Agreed, the movie is a dramatised version of these incidents, but Ben made sure that since he was brought into the movie, and since he was wielding the megaphone, he could take the dramatic liberty to make sure that it is him and only him who has to be the hero of the movie, WHATEVER THE CONSEQUENCES! What I meant by this is that, the incidents took place as mentioned, but the real life heroes were made to seem like mere supporting characters, like the Canadian Ambassador, and sometimes even portrayed villains i.e. the British and the New Zealand embassies. Agreed, after all “All’s Well That Ends Well”, is the movie’s motto , but drifting to such an extent from reality, I guess, it could have been a pure work of the writer’s imagination rather, rather than adapting it from a book inspired by actual events!
Looking at the movie from a dramatic point of view, granted the plot of the movie is very simple, yet it kept me glued to my seat throughout the length of the movie. It does have a lot of would they or wouldn’t they make it sequences. Credit goes solely to Ben Affleck in trying to bring in the reality into the movie and getting the audience to relive the moment and the hostage crisis. They were intricately portrayed in the scenes with a rush of adrenaline. There were a lot of moments which had alot of anxiety, but my favorite has to be the airport security check scene, before they board their planes, with Tony gifting the security staff one of the storyboard drawings in the end, just as an act of superiority!
Finally, Argo is flawed to the brim when compared to the actual events that happened, however it would have been a documentary had the events been portrayed as is, but in the same breath taking too much dramatic liberty and making a movie of that is “Inspired by True Events”, would not actually be based on “True Events”. But then again, what would a drama be without any DRAMA!!!!
Audience POV :
1. Amazing dramatic episodes.
2. Realistic portrayal of drama.
1. Brilliant narration.
2. Overdose of drama.