Argo’s recent release on Blu-Ray gave me the chance to watch the Best Picture winner, and it’s easy to see why Ben Affleck’s film won the Oscar. It’s classic Hollywood from beginning to end; a crisply-filmed tale of good versus bad where everything important happens at the last possible second. Affleck uses an expansive budget well: not to fill the film with action sequences, rather a rich cast of great actors. There’s a real sense of place – it’s easy to believe that the film is actually set in late-70s/early-80s America and Iran.
The film is at its core a heist film, following the audacious true story of CIA agents concocting a fake sci-fi movie to spirit six Americans out of hostile Iran. Argo isn’t interested in probing the complicated political realities and moral dilemmas of the situation, but to its credit, it doesn’t portray the Iranians out to capture these Americans as faceless baddies. An expertly conceived, creatively-shot prologue explains the rage behind the Iranian mobs, and adds an undercurrent of ambiguity to the proceedings. We might root for the Americans in a tense airport scene, but we remain conscious of the policy failings that placed them in such danger.