12th Feb2014

‘Argo: Declassified Extended Edition’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Kyle Chandler | Written by Chris Terrio | Directed by Ben Affleck

argo-declassified-extended-edition

As we get ever closer to the BAFTA and Oscar Awards Hollywood is in overdrive with all the studios trying to get their movies noticed and hoping that all the attention helps in their bid for awards.  While all the focus is on these movies, what of the films from last year? One of the biggest winners last year taking the Oscar for Best Picture was Argo so it’s no surprise that the Argo: Declassified Extended Edition blu-ray was released in the UK this week.

Set in 1970 Argo is the Hollywood retelling of a CIA mission which itself was born out of the idea of a Hollywood Movie.  When Iran brings down its government and lays siege to the American Embassy six diplomats manage to escape and hide within the Canadian Ambassador’s official residence.  The CIA are ordered to get them out of the country, and Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) an exfiltration expert devises a plan to create a Canadian Film Production which wants to shoot in Canada giving him the excuse to enter the country under the rouse of location scouting.  With the plan of taking the American Diplomats out of the country as Canadian filmmakers he has to move fast before the Iranians discover the plan or the American Government get cold feet and pull out of the plan.

When we watch a movie like Argo we have to remember that “based on true events” means that it is loosely based on the facts, but Hollywood can stick its own spin on the events.  Taken that way, Argo it is still a good drama that builds tension up to unbearable levels and tells a good tale.  Whether it’s the scene in the Bazaar with the growing anger of the baying mob or it’s the final scenes in the airport the tension slowly builds for the audience as we see the growing danger build and are made to believe that all is lost, by seeing what the characters can’t see we get to see how close things came to falling apart.  No matter what history tells us, we still get pulled into the idea that the plan will never work.

What impresses me the most about Argo is that although the Iranian regime of the time is shown being harsh to its enemies within the country at a time of “terror”, the film doesn’t go all out trying to make the country an extremely evil force which would arguably weaken the feeling of real danger.  Argo uses the feeling of paranoia and hatred to build the tension, and to show the atrocities that are taking place.  Another thing it does well is its presentation of America and the way they were willing to risk lives all to preserve their political image on the world stage, which is a harsh reality many countries would take.

In terms of acting it is fair to say that Ben Affleck does do well as Tony Mendez, a man putting his own life on the line to save the group of diplomats and fight for what he thought was right.  Even if liberties are taken with the history of the mission, you still end the film respecting the real life person the film is based on.  Bryan Cranston as Jack O’Donnell, John Goodman as John Chambers and Victor Garber as Ken Tayler also put on excellent performances but in many scenes it’s Alan Arkin who steals the moment, especially with his “Argo-fuck yourself” which is the most memorable line of the movie, and even its repetition throughout the film does not go old as it becomes a catchphrase for the mission.

In terms of extras in the Argo: Declassified Extended Edition, you get the theatrical and extended editions of the movie, over two hours of extras, a commentary track (for the theatrical version) and a “Picture-in-Picture” feature looking at the similarities between reality and fiction.  Included with the Blu-ray is also a map of movie locations and an Argo Movie Poster which is the science fiction based piece of art work as seen in the movie (pictured below).

argo-declassified-extended-edition-contents

This was the first time I’ve actually seen Argo, so in its Argo: Declassified Extended Edition I chose to watch the extended version, which is only around nine minutes longer than the theatrical.  I may watch the theatrical to see if I notice any differences, but I doubt that there will be that much difference between the two.  It is fair to say though that Argo did deserve the awards it won, and it’s nice to see a release like this getting a special release.

Argo: Declassified Extended Edition is out now on Blu-ray.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com
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