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Reviews & Ratings for
Argo More at IMDbPro »

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32 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Beyond bad...

1/10
Author: nazgulero_0 from Netherlands
23 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is so bad, I don't even know where to start. None of it makes any sense. Many basic movie making mistakes make it look like it is done by an amateur film crew. A guy waving a burning US flag, and it is more than obvious that it is CGI burn. An Iranian woman running towards the camera and looking directly into the camera, not even angry, but clearly having fun. In the next shot, from the side, she is gone. That is basic continuity. The head of security for the US embassy out of the blue decides to open the door to 'reason with these people', only to be taken hostage within 5 microseconds. That is beyond stupid. The entire film crew plot never makes any sense and is never put to work, as everything comes down to a security guard at the airport by accident reading about the filming of the movie. Right. What are the chances of him having a magazine on his table, and accidentally stumbling upon just that article ? The guard then calls the office in LA, which had already been shut down, but Goodman and Arkin for some inexplicable reason HAVE to go there in a hurry, even at the expense of ruining the shooting for another movie. What do they want in that office, and why the hurry ? The final car chase at the airport is the low point. There is no way an open jeep can keep up with a commercial airliner at full takeoff speed. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Just another Ben Affleck ego trip, as we are treated to many, many closeups of his face.

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77 out of 135 people found the following review useful:

Ben Affleck moves closer to auteur status.

Author: John DeSando (jdesando@columbus.rr.com) from Columbus, Ohio
12 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"We had suicide missions in the Army that had better odds than this." Lester (Alan Arkin)

Although the historical events depicted in Argo for extricating six embassy employees from Iran during the infamous 444 day hostage debacle may not have happened just as director Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio depict them, the movie is an edge-of-the-seat thriller done better than any other film of its kind this year. The above quotation by Lester, a Hollywood producer recruited for the gamble, captures the danger and promise of the escapade.

The reason for my A- rather than A is the ending escape sequence, which is pure Hollywood, preposterous and entertaining. If you're not rooting for the personnel to get away, then you must be an old timer who worked for fundamentalist Islam's Ayatollah Khomeini.

The strategy devised by Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) was called the "Hollywood Option," and more to the point, the "best bad idea," a bold masquerade in which Mendez and the six were disguised as Canadian filmmakers seeking a location for a low-budget sci-fi film. The tension, expertly maintained by director Affleck, rests almost solely on whether or not their fiction is uncovered. Affleck underplays Mendez in a posture necessary for remaining cool in the face of Iranian authorities seeking Americans to hang.

Besides evoking the late seventies' dorky fashions of ubiquitous mustaches, long hair, and large glasses, Argo recreates the volatile environment of world affairs when relief from Vietnam did not mean relief from rogue governments like Iran's, as the condemnation of Salman Rushdie has taught well. Every Iranian bureaucrat and soldier carries a hidden threat in beards and bearing. At the airport, the multiple check points ramp up the anxiety, enhanced no doubt by our experiences with post 9/11 TSA.

If you're disappointed by that Hollywood ending, wait for the post-credits sequence, which juxtaposes photos of Tehran at the time with the film's stills. If that bit of realism doesn't satisfy you, then enjoy the superior acting of John Goodman as make-up artist John Chambers and Arkin. Now that's the real Hollywood.

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30 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Enormously overrated.

6/10
Author: Paul Burns (paulalexburns) from Australia
28 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Introduction:

I was a bit apprehensive about this one. I am not a fan of Ben Affleck, or his previous directorial efforts. While the critics slobbered over Gone Baby Gone and The Town I remained unconvinced of his talents (and to some extent I still am). Neither of them are dreadful films by any means but just very flawed. Gone Baby Gone seemed awfully simplistic for a film that was based around a moral dilemma, and The Town, whilst well executed, was totally uninspired - it told a story we'd all heard a hundred times before. So what do I think of his next film, Argo?

Pros:

It features one of the most memorable, and frightening opening sequences in a film I've ever seen.

The performances are better than solid. Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Scoot McNairy, and even Ben Affleck do the absolute best job with the material they've been given.

I loved the first half of this film. It is darkly funny - occasionally hilarious, yet had a brooding intensity building up to the events that are to come. It is superbly compiled with three different parallel stories: the comic relief at Hollywood, the hostage situation in Iran, and what's happening in the government office co-ordinating the rescue mission.

Cons:

There are way too many climaxes during the second half, for one that undermine the authenticity of the film (which if you didn't know is based on a true story), but also become quickly tedious. The tension vanishes, as the manipulative devices to build tension are way too obvious and overused. The repetitiveness of the final act becomes very annoying.

The characters weren't fleshed out. They weren't exactly clichéd but neither were they three dimensional.

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59 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

Too loosely 'Inspired'

4/10
Author: Benjamin Williams
13 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pretty much nothing in this film actually happened(time-wise, people- wise, story-wise), so what's left is just the movie at itself. Where Ben Affleck portrays a man with clearly no emotions, the group of six 'escapees' clearly experienced difficulties portraying fear. Add up the classic 'America is the smartest country in the world, and the bad guys have the intelligence no bigger than a pile of (you know what)' and you'll find this movie pretty annoying (like I did).

I could, would and should go on about why this movie fails (like pretty much every Hollywood movie) to actually capture a foreign country the way it REALLY is, instead of the way we (apparently) think it is (Iran is a country with a lot of bearded people who are all angry and hate Americans), but it's pretty useless to do so.

John Goodman and Bryan Cranston were fun to watch and some parts of the movie were entertaining, but overall I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

4 out of 10

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Criminally Overrated

2/10
Author: Joshua N from United States
13 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Where to even begin? Maybe with the positives?

Well, I found the pacing to be pretty good, and this film wasn't an overlong snooze-fest like Lincoln, so that made it somewhat entertaining. Some of the camera work was very good--I really liked some of the shots they took. Bryan Cranston was amazing in his role--it made me want his character to be the lead actually. Alan Arkin also shone in his role. Finally, the editing was good and is rightfully nominated for an Oscar.

SPOILERS!

All of the other Oscar nominations are pure folly. Best Picture? Absolutely not. Really? A more boring Oceans 11 meets the streets of Tehran is good enough for Best Picture these days? How sad is that? Best Screenplay? So, turning an interesting, real-life caper into a droll, boring, formulaic Hollywood movie is a good thing? The dialogue was generally trash when Goodman and Arkin weren't delivering one-liners. At no point did any character say anything about themselves or their situation that felt like it actually mattered or had any impact. Best Sound? Seriously? In a movie that has a soundtrack populated with Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, and Scottish bagpipes? Sure, real original....You can go to any college bar in America and hear that soundtrack. Did America's movie establishment collectively snort a few lines of PCP-laced coke before watching this? Is that how it came to be such a great experience?

As for the picture itself, aside from the nominations, this played quite fast and loose with actual historical facts, which is kind of a no-no when doing a film based on reality. To divide the credit 95:5 USA:Canada is about a 50-point swing from where it probably should be, and Canadian reviewers have said as much. Also, the fact that Iranians are writing in that they feel the need to say they are not from Attila and the Hun and they aren't all bloodthirsty psychos bent on pillaging and murdering is pretty telling. Hollywood hasn't produced a film so stereotypically wrong about a whole race of people for, what, 3 months? I mean, Persian culture developed mathematics for crying out loud! Yet, this group of people has no more human qualities now than territorial apes? The fact that this was set in Tehran, which makes Iranians kind of important to the story and not a SINGLE Iranian is portrayed with any shred of a conscience is deeply troubling. The pigeonholing of Iranians as barbarians and Canadians like a little, ineffectual brother is absurd.

I was struggling with the fact that the movie would have been so much better had Ben Affleck's character actually been played by Chuck Norris! That says something (and not that I'm a fan of Walker, Texas Ranger which I'm not). The worst part, aside from 35 minutes of Affleck-face screen time, was the meeting he went to and completely shredded everyone's ideas (which were stupid, but...no one had any other ideas, seriously? In an intelligence agency?). He subsequently proposed something so preposterous that no intelligence agency would EVER have green-lighted it, except for that it actually happened...hmmm...HOW? Maybe some more background about how this proposal made it through! Surely, that's not still classified at this point. This is how you immerse your audience in the story, Ben, you need to be stronger with the details--and give history buffs a reason to say, "hmmm, that's something I didn't know!"

TL;DR: As for my rating being 2/10, which may seem overly harsh, well, an OK movie, technically, was ruined by historical pandering, a suspense-less caper that was oh so predictable, and a series of implausible action scenes with virtually no action in them. That this and Lincoln will be duking it out for many Oscars really makes me happy that I don't go to the cinema all that often anymore.

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26 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

A Very Misleading Movie - Garbage By Affleck

3/10
Author: SpitfireIXB from Canada
24 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here we go again. This time a really exciting true story has been dumbed down with mostly fabrications by Ben Affleck and his writers for reasons unknown.

Argo claims to be an accurate account of the evasion and escape of six American embassy staff from Iran. Tag lines for the movie Argo state "the movie was fake but the story is completely true." Nothing could be further from the truth. Argo is as fake as the movie cover story in the true story and, in fact, this movie cover story was concocted by the Canadians not the CIA.

Argo is mostly a complete fabrication of the events surrounding the evasion and escape of the six American Embassy employees from Iran and not only deters from the exciting true story (see Escape From Iran, the Canadian Caper) but does a tremendous disservice to the staff of the Canadian embassy, especially the late John Sheardown. Mr. Sheardown was the first Canadian the Americans contacted for asylum and he and his wife, Zena, actually did hide some of the American evaders in their home in Tehran for almost three months. Yet, the late Mr. Sheardown and his wife are not even mentioned in the movie, Argo. Also, the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor and his wife were relegated to the role of mere overwrought, if not somewhat incompetent, bystanders. This is misleading in the extreme. Argo's original credits stated that the awards received by the Canadian Ambassador and his staff for their role in the evasion and escape were undeserved since it was a complete CIA operation. This is a lie. Ambassador Taylor called these postscript lines "disgraceful and insulting" and demeaning to the Canadians involved. This movie's claim that Canada was "allowed to take credit" for the operation because the escape plan was a secret CIA operation is also a misleading lie. Argo's claim that there was only some cursory help from the Canadians is a misleading fabrication.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter commented on the accuracy of the Argo story when he appeared on CNN recently (Thursday night, Feb 21, 2013). President Carter said: "90 per cent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian, but the film gives almost full credit of the plan to the American CIA." Also, in a recent address to Queen's University, President Carter called "Argo" a complete distortion of what happened. He stated: "I saw the movie Argo recently and I was taken back by its distortion of what happened because almost everything that was heroic, or courageous or innovative was done by Canada and not the United States." Argo's claim that it was a completely a CIA operation is untrue and an insult to the Canadians who helped the Americans to evade capture and escape from Iran. The Canadian exit visas and passports issued to the Americans were forgeries made on authentic documents and passports that were supplied by the Canadian government not the CIA. In truth, the CIA agent was actually in Iran for less then 36 hours and he was not even at the airport when the Americans exited Iran. It was the Canadian Ambassador, his wife, and his staff who smuggled the Americans through Iranian controls and checkpoints and onto the departing flight at Tehran airport.

Ben Affleck must apologize to The Canadian Ambassador; the ambassador's wife; the late John Sheardown's widow, Zena Sheardown; and all the other Canadian Embassy staff members who made the escape of the six Americans from Iran possible. Also, Mr. Affleck should then apologize to all Canadians. I was going to say Argo-f**k yourself to Mr. Affleck but why bother.

From a technical point, the cinematography is very good and with several exceptions, the cast was adequate. However, Argo's script is something you should not put aside lightly, it should be thrown with great force.

This story needs to be remade, perhaps using the script from "Escape From Iran - The Canadian Caper" and not turned into some mindless drivel that is represented by the movie Argo. The true story of the evasion and escape of the six Americans from Iran is so exciting and full of tension that it would definitely keep you on the edge of your seat, unlike Argo which is full of something else.

3/10 stars for the cinematography only.

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50 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

It's not a documentary

8/10
Author: PWNYCNY from United States
16 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a good movie which probably would have been an even better movie if the story had been based on actual facts. The operation to smuggle out the six Americans was primarily a Canadian, not American, action and the lead hero was the Canadian ambassador who protected the Americans and then arranged for them to leave the country. This is not to say that the United States had no role, because it did, but contrary to the movie, it were the Canadians who took the lead. Also, the fact that the American official sent to escort the Americans was Hispanic is not even mentioned, which would have added another dimension to the story. The movie also demonizes the Iranians who are portrayed as little more than uncontrollable rabble, when in fact, what happened in 1979 was the culmination of a long series of grievances harbored by many Iranians against the United States. This does not mean that the Iranians should be excused for what they did when they stormed the embassy, which was a blatant violation of international law governing the protection of embassies, and for which the Iranian government must be held to account, but their actions must be examined within a larger historical and political context, something which the movie to its credit alludes to, but does not incorporate more fully into the story. Ben Affleck gives an excellent performance as the CIA person and the story moves forward at a brisk pace with a lot of tension and excitement; it's a good movie. But it's not a documentary.

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145 out of 279 people found the following review useful:

Yet another inaccurate historical film

3/10
Author: james richard from United States
19 October 2012

This film spends half its time calling Hollywood a bunch of phonies and liars, then makes a phony film that tells a lie. The true story is amazing. This one completely misleads on the actual events, and leaves out some of its greatest heroes. I've seen Ben Affleck on multiple talk shows talking about politics. This film had a chance to tell an amazing story of diplomacy, cooperation and bravery, but failed to tell the story.

I know it's not a documentary, and I know that a director needs to add in dialog that no one could know, but even Titanic, a story about two people who never existed, got the facts right. I'd put this film in the same category as Inglorious Basterds. Entertaining, but insultingly misleading.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Proof that the US is losing it

1/10
Author: a5790131 from London
10 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm halfway into the movie now and it's so boring i went on IMDb to check if this is really the movie that won the best picture Oscar. Apparently it is. The fact that it is makes me very very worried about the state the United States is in. Hollywood making propaganda? That's nothing new. The thing is, it used to be genius. It promoted American values, political agendas etc. But this didn't win you a best picture Oscar. The success of American propaganda used to be the result of exceptional talent, creativity, and awesomeness. Think Mickey Mouse. Hollywood created the culture of the 20th century.

But this is just garbage. Nothing memorable, particularly exciting. A normal thriller. It's not horrible and one star is a bit mean. The fake movie idea seems like an interesting variation on an all too familiar setting and plot. But it didn't translate into anything noteworthy. Argo f**k yourself. That was the best line. Well, apparently someone else than the US will have to take care of the 21st century culture because this is just pathetic. Bye bye Miss American Pie and hello Gangnam style I guess

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

recent history a la Hollywood

5/10
Author: dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
5 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Americans like redoing wars in movies – and they do not avoid the lost wars. The hostage crisis in 1979 which cost president Carter a second presidential mandate was not exactly a war, but a conflict generated by the departing paths of the Iran in revolution after the overthrow of the Shah and on its way to become an Islamic Republic and the United States government which supported for many decades the old regime. One rescue mission went terribly wrong, but this is not the one shown in Argo but the lesser known and successful one in which six employees who escaped the embassy when events started and were hidden in the house of the Canadian ambassador were taken out of Iran, under the false identities of Canadians working for a Hollywood movie. As with the Rambo series for example, the story is first of all a pretext for action entertainment, and a way of making audiences feel better about a problematic episode in the American history. Same as with Rambo, success with audiences and in this case also with critics (which I am a little surprised) was achieved, but this does not make in my opinion for good cinema, and of course does not really change history.

Does it matter that the film is inspired by a true story? That's an interesting question, and I would say that the answer is to a large extent No. It is not really the factual truth that matters when you watch a fiction movie, but the artistic news. Reality sometimes exceeds imagination, but art is first of all about imagination, and not necessarily about the imagination of the makers but of the one of the receivers, the viewers in the case of movies. The analysis on the Internet show discrepancies between the real events and the story on screen – this is not what bothers me but the result. The final chase for example between the Iranian police cars and the commercial airplane taking off would fit fine a James Bond or Mission: Impossible film, but not one labeled a true story. There was enough material in the story for a much deeper psychological processing, both of the CIA and other people involved in the plot, and of the American confined in the Canadian ambassador's house and waiting for the rescue. Ben Affleck and the other authors of the film went for the broader audiences using the action film tools and inflating the role of the Hollywood producers and of the Americans in general in the whole story. It was a fair and legitimate choice which probably improved the rating, but did not in my opinion make the film better.

I do not like Ben Affleck as an actor. He inspires me dullness in most of the roles he takes, simply made me lose interest in more than a few characters I saw him acting. This is the case here as well. I am not inspired by his Tony Mendez, I cannot distinguish his hero from many other similar action movies heroes, I never got his motivation for making the tough decision of going rogue in order to save lives and accomplish his mission, his divorcée and remote father background is as banal as it can be in the script and Ben Affleck the actor does not pour any life in it. Actually as a director and script author he may be more interesting, his director hand is sure and witty, and as an action movie director he is above average. His image of the 70s is precisely executed, with the help of costumes and sets artists and despite use of stereotypes (like excessive smoking). As with many other of his films Argo promises more than it delivers.

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