Steen: Argo worth seeing, stay for the postscript

This film has moments of tension, levity, excitement and action and it’s worth the couple of hours.

  • Oct. 18, 2012 2:00 p.m.


In 1979, a revolution in Iran left many dead, and many fearing for their lives.

As the U.S. Embassy is overtaken by revolutionaries and several U.S. citizens were taken hostage, six staffers managed to take refuge in the Canadian Embassy, which was close by.

For 144 days, the Canadian Ambassador (played here by Canadian actor Victor Garber) and his wife, risking certain death if found to be harbouring U.S. citizens, managed to keep the men and women hidden—no easy feat.

In this film, directed by the film’s star Ben Affleck, who plays the CIA guy responsible for the idea of getting the six out of the country by passing them off as a movie crew; the name of the movie  being Argo.

One embassy employee who did much in the real saga was not mentioned and someone’s take on this show was the “we were portrayed as innkeepers, waiting for the U.S. to save the day.”

Yes, there is some of that. God Bless ’em, but we’ve all seen World War II movies, where our neighbours from the south, always win the war.

And really, if we wanted to make ourselves feel good, we could have done a Hollywood-type film about the War of 1812, where we (well, the British, but close enough) burned the White House, but apart from a really good PBS special, we don’t brag about those things. Cause we’re Canadian.

In fact, Taylor himself has said: “The entire Canadian Embassy was at play, I don’t think it (the film) gives credit to Canada and I made that pretty clear.” To his credit, Affleck asked Taylor to re-write the post script, which he did.

Ambassador Taylor, who began his diplomatic career in1951 as a trade counsellor in Guatemala, Pakistan and the UK, received 112 citations and is portrayed as a brave guy who took great risks to ensure the safety of those in his care. Taylor is the founder and partner in the consulting firm of Taylor and Ryan.

This show was well done—Affleck, who needed a hit, has one. Even if Taken 2 eclipsed Argo in the box office, Argo did manage to grab $20 million in box office revenues in its first weekend.

Other actors of note in this show are Bryan Cranston as Jack O’Donnel, Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel (who knew he used to sing with the folk group The Tarriers?) and John Goodman as John Chambers. Goodman noted for his role as Dan Conner on the TV show, Roseanne, 1988-1997) who all are just terrific in their respective parts.

There are several funny lines, like this one: “The target audience will hate it.”

“Who’s the target audience?”

“Anyone with eyes.”

So, despite my whining about how Canada is perceived, I truly enjoyed Argo (it helped to remember the history and know how it ends). This film has moments of tension, levity, excitement and action and it’s worth the couple of hours, if only to once again, bask in the moment when Canada came to the rescue of the Americans.

I give Argo four reels—and stay for the postscript.

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