Argo

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Argo Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Taut political thriller based on real-life escape from Iran.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 56 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The CIA goes to extreme lengths -- and one agent risks his life -- to save six people who need to get out of Iran before they're captured by revolutionaries. It's a patriotic story, based on a real mission, that highlights the agency's sense of duty during very difficult times.

Positive Role Models & Representations

CIA operative Tony Mendez has one firm rule: Never leave anyone behind. He goes to extraordinary lengths to rescue six people before they're captured. The entire movie is built around a huge lie, but it's clear that the deception is both justified and necessary, and Mendez puts his own life on the line to pull it off.

Violence

An unruly mob overruns the U.S. embassy, waving guns and threatening people. Soldiers fire tear gas into a crowd. People are manhandled and shoved around. Later, militants threaten to shoot hostages, even setting up a firing squad. Other scenes show victims of the violence in Iran, including death by point-blank gunfire and hanging. Several scenes include tense stand-offs between soldiers and people trying to hide their identities, and though there's not much violence, the anxiety is palpable. Lots of guns.

Sex

Some scantily clad actresses in scenes involving sci-fi movie shoots. A married couple hugs.

Language

Frequent swearing includes "f--k" (and many variations thereof, including a running joke involving the movie's title and word "f--k"), "s--t," "prick," "a--hole," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), and more.

Consumerism

One character drinks Miller beer and eats at McDonald's. A wealthy movie executive drives a Rolls Royce.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes show people drinking wine and cocktails at meals. A man drinks liquor alone in a hotel room, straight from the bottle, after getting bad news; it's also implied that he drinks wine "for courage" in another tense situation. Pretty frequent smoking (accurate for the era).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Argo is based on the true story of a daring covert rescue mission, carried out by CIA operative Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck, who also directs), during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. A few scenes feature unruly mobs and dead bodies, and there are some extremely tense sequences during the escape, but there's not much actual on-screen violence. Other issues include swearing (there's quite a bit, including "f--k" and "s--t") and several scenes that show people smoking and drinking during social occasions.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLowe's man January 4, 2014

educational and insightful

As most people over the age of 40 know, the hostage crisis in Iran was a major reason why Jimmy Carter didn't get reelected. Most people younger than that... Continue reading
Adult Written bykidhuger1234599 June 24, 2013

AMAZING BUT LANGUAGE

It is an amazing movie and nothing ten year old can'y handel but it does contain some language.
Teen, 15 years old Written byBananafish83 January 15, 2021

Operation Argo

I was looking on the other reviews, from other parents and children. I don’t agree that the movie had too much swearing. That’s how we people have evolved with... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old November 26, 2020
This is my favorite drama besides good will hunting. Now Argo is great but it is one of those movies where it can be confusing if your a kid because there are d... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Iranian militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, taking 52 Americans hostage, six manage to escape, taking refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. There they stay, safe but trapped, until CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck, who also directs) concocts an audacious rescue plan. First, he heads to Hollywood, where he recruits two movie-industry veterans (Alan Arkin and John Goodman) to help set up a fake film production. Then he hops on a plane to Iran, in the guise of a Canadian producer scouting desert locations for a sci-fi flick called ARGO. The mission -- "the best bad idea we've got," as one official describes it -- is to fly the entire group out on a commercial flight by convincing the Iranian military that they're all part of the film crew.

Is it any good?

Affleck is well on his way to becoming a masterful director; with a steady hand and a sure vision, he guides Argo like a conductor leading a virtuoso orchestra. His actors are sublime; the casting, save for one notable exception (see below), genius. (Arkin reminds us what acting should be.) And the pacing is exquisite, recalling such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and The Marathon Man.

Affleck's decisions, from imbuing Argo with a circa-1970s patina to splicing real news footage in between re-created scenes, are flawless ... except for one glaring error: casting himself. He's solid here, but he's not transcendent. And that's not OK, not in a film of this caliber. Argo needs an actor who reverberates without saying a single word. A secondary storyline about Mendez' family life is a sweet detour, but a distraction, too. Nonetheless, Argo is a thriller that nearly stands up to the best of them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that the whole Argo mission is built around a huge deception. Why is it OK to lie in this situation? Are there other times that it's OK?

  • Some Canadians are apparently miffed that their participation in the rescue has been minimized in the film. When it comes to portraying real-life events, should Hollywood hew to the historic accounts? Or does entertainment trump accuracy?

  • Are the characters role models? What about the "bad guys"? How are they portrayed? How might this story play out differently if it had been made in another country?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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