I would think it difficult to make a suspense film where the audience already knows the ending. Oh sure, in "Three Days of the Condor" and "Bourne" and such you know he's going to make it out alive, but those have the conceit of being fiction. "Titanic" had stunning special effects. Argo is neither, it's merely a true story, that of six Americans who escaped the Embassy in Tehran just as it was being overrun by students in 1979 who took another five dozen diplomatic service employees hostage.Holed up in the Canadian Ambassador's residence, they edge closer and closer to being discovered, until finally the CIA steps in with a cockamamie plan to bring them out by posing as a Canadian film crew in search of a location for a science fiction B movie. (Why anyone in Iran in those times would fall for this is beyond me, given that you can find exotic locales in Egypt or a dozen other middle-Eastern countries that all look vaguely similar except without the rioting mobs, but I digress.)There are no spoilers here, most of those were in the headlines in 1979, and what few remained have been thoroughly spoilt in the pre-release publicity for the film, directed by Ben Affleck, and featuring Alan Arkin and John Goodman among a cast of otherwise unknowns.The best part, for me, was the absence of silly, over-the-top violence, CGI enhanced for maximum appeal to 14 year olds, even as the tension builds toward the film climax. And a great release it is, even though you know it's coming, you should pardon the expression.And don't rush out before the credit roll; some of the more far fetched plot points are put on screen: stills from the film juxtaposed against news photographs from the era, and they're eerily similar. That's not so hard to do, given that Affleck already had the pictures in hand and could construct the movie to align, but it's still a testament to the "based on a true story" meme, which is so frequently used to concoct all manner of fictional excess around a real life story.I've been lamenting that the last half dozen films we've gone to were mediocre, sometimes worse. The season is back, and it's good, very good indeed.
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