Argo

 
(i)

 

Taut political thriller based on real-life escape from Iran.
Academy AwardGolden Globe
  • Review Date: October 11, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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).

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:October 12, 2012
DVD release date:February 19, 2013
Cast:Alan Arkin, Ben Affleck, John Goodman
Director:Ben Affleck
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Thriller
Topics:History
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some violent images
Awards:Academy Award, Golden Globe

This review of Argo was written by

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byZdn312 October 19, 2012
 

Amazing movie

Great movie. No blood. Some language but nothing teens don't hear on a daily basis.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byMoviedudde18 October 14, 2012
 

Argo(2012)

Argo is a well crafted drama thriller that has great direction by Ben Affleck. The movie has a consistent tone that alway's has a vibe of fresh smell we have had in years. The movie suprisingly has alot of laughs. SPOILER: the joke Bryan Cranston & Ben Affleck and the dad from The Change-Up make up "Argo ---- yourself" is hilarious. Overall, Argo is one of the most thoughtful and well crafted films in 2012.
Parent Written byShivom Oza October 16, 2012
 

Argo (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – Enlightening, Entertaining and Engaging!

Based on a true story, ‘Argo’ is about six Americans, who although escape from being held as hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, have to find refuge in the home of Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor. The film is about the rescue operations undertaken for these six American diplomats. The film is an absolute must-watch. The cast, that looks amazingly similar to the real men and women involved in the crisis, delivers first-rate performances. Ben Affleck gives a fine performance as an actor and shines as a director. The year is 1979. During the ongoing Iranian revolution, Islamic ‘revolutionaries’ (or the terrorists as the Unites States refers to them as) take over the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This action is in retaliation for the support given to their recently-deposed Shah by the U.S. While sixty-odd diplomats are taken as hostages, six of them (four men and two women) evade capture and find a hide-out in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). No one, except the State Department back home in the U.S., knows about the situation of the six escapees. They then begin to explore options of getting them out of Iran. CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a rather improbable idea. It strikes him while watching the sci-fi film ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ that they can create a cover-up that the escapees are Canadian filmmakers, hunting for locations in Iran for a film called ‘Argo’. So Mendez and his supervisor Jack O’ Donnell (Bryan Cranston), along with a Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), hatch out a plan to start creating buzz around this cover-up movie. They set up a fake studio for this fake film and even hold a presser to get the media to talk about it. Back in Tehran, the situation gets all the more serious as the revolutionaries find out that there have been escapees. They have been trying to put back the shredded documentation that they found at the embassy to look for vital information, the identities of the escapees in particular. So Mendez enters Iran anyway carrying fake identities, fake film material, fake passports and fake documents. Will the six hostages get rescued? Will Mendez leave them in the lurch? Will the U.S. government ditch the seven Americans stranded in Tehran? ‘Argo’ is a superb ‘political’ film. The scenes, the locations, the props, the body language, the characterization and the costumes are absolutely circa 1979. The best thing about the film is that while it is based on a true incident, there is not too much of ‘history’ and ‘trivia’ thrown in consciously. All the important bits of information are brilliantly etched into the screenplay so there is no need to ‘educate’ the audience with needless narrations and overlaying text. The on-goings within the U.S. government, the state of the film industry, condition of the people living in Tehran, all of these aspects are portrayed in a very realistic manner. None of this takes away from the ‘suspense’ element in the story. There is no blatant stereotyping. The predicament of all sides has been handled in a very delicate manner. This film is a delight not just for its brilliant performances and gripping screenplay, but also the important bits of history that it provides. The casting of the film is first-rate. Not a single actor/actress looks/seems unfit for the role that they play. Right from the look to the dialogue delivery to the body language, the cast gets it right! Ben Affleck is brilliant as Tony Mendez. The actors, who play the six escapees, are also superb. The best dialogues have been given to the make-up artist-producer combo played by John Goodman and Alan Arkin. Alan has some hilarious lines in the film. Most of them are take-offs on the film industry. In a tense, dramatic film, such moments provide the much-needed comic relief. The screenplay (Chris Terrio) is engaging, realistic and has a fine mix of drama, subtlety and humor. Director Ben Affleck superbly gets it all together on the screen. The scenes are very well-written. In most of the scenes, silence has been used fantastically. Joshuah Bearman, who wrote the article ‘Escape from Tehran’, has also been credited as a writer. Overall, the film excels wonderfully in the writing department. The music by Alexandre Despat is splendid. After ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, he scores yet another winner. One of the best films, based on real-life accounts, made in recent times. Enlightening, entertaining and engaging, ‘Argo’ is a must-watch! Shivom Oza
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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