HTS Overall Score:
Once again, Since this has been a film that has been reviewed on HTS before, the film description itself will remain the same and anything new or altered for the 4K release will be bolded.
Watching “Argo” so soon after the Benghazi incident was rather eerily ironic and rather chilling considering the similar circumstances in question. “Argo” was based upon the true story of Agent Mendez and his crew, in cooperation with the Canadian government, infiltrating the Iranian nation after a hostile takeover of the U.S. Embassy and rescuing six embassy workers who had escaped the scene of the invasion. Declassified in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, the story is now available for all to see the heroic actions that our men and women showed getting our people out of harm’s way.
While Ben Affleck has not been the GREATEST actor of all times in his younger years, he has certainly matured in the last decade. He truly found his strengths when he went behind the director’s chair. Where he struggled as being nothing but a type cast pretty boy in his younger years and was maligned critically for such bombs as “Gigli”, he has gained the Midas Touch BEHIND the camera. Directing amazing films such as “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town” he has shown just what an excellent director he has become, and luckily for us, Argo is every bit as good, and may I say, better than his previous outings.
In the winter of 1979 the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran was attacked by a revolutionary people angry at the United States for harboring the dying Sheik of Iran, a monster in his own right. Taking 52 members of the embassy hostage, the Iranians demanded that the United States hand the Sheik over to them for justice. Unbeknownst to the invaders, six members of the U.S. Embassy escaped into the night and took refuge in the Canadian ambassador’s home. After almost 3 months of hiding it became apparent that the Iranian government was not going to be ending the situation anytime soon, so the CIA called in Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), an ex-filtration specialist, to come in and extract the six escapees to the United States.
Realizing that none of their usual cover stories are going to work Agent Mendez suggests that they create a fake movie shoot over in Iran and extract the six embassy workers under the guise of crewmembers for the film. It appears that the CIA had a friend in John Chambers (John Goodman), a film makeup consultant who had worked with the CIA before in creating guises. Pulling in Director Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) they not only create a fake movie shoot, but actually create a movie from scratch, script, press releases, magazine subscriptions and all. Travelling to Iran, Mendez then has to meet with the six escapees, have them memorize their cover stories within 24-48 hours and walk them right under the noses of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard onto the plane and out of Iran.
What makes this movie so much more intense and engrossing is the fact that, besides some dramatization licenses, this is what actually happened. Agent Mendez came in, trained those six ordinary citizens to act and speak like Canadians long enough to bypass a nation of people searching for them.
Ben Affleck is pure gold both in front of and behind the camera. I was amazed at the amount of effort and attention to detail that was taken here. Scenes from the movie almost mirror image the haircuts, the local, and even the actors were spitting image of their real life counter parts. There were no 2000 era haircuts or dress slipping into the movie, every set piece, every haircut and verbal mannerism was straight out of the good old early 80s.
Superbly acted, and excellently directed, I was shocked at the humble take on this heroic situation. No grandstanding by Ben Affleck and no one hogging the spotlight. Everyone was given ample screen time and every time a new character had his/her time the other actors slid into the background and let that person shine. Ben was incredible as the stoic and honor bound Agent Mendez, and Bryan Cranston, as his boss, blew me away. Alan Arkin and John Goodman had some very obvious fun with their roles, just eating up the roles as the film makers who have a chance to show off their craft in a way that makes a difference. The sheer amount of A list actors that participated in this film and the amount of effort that was shown by each and every one of them is what truly gives this film that awe inspiring flare about it. While it may not be the BEST picture of the year I can certainly see why it garnered as much critical acclaim as it did. A fine film in every aspect.
Rated R for language and some violent images
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10955[/img]Just as the acting and directing are superbly done, it’s obvious that a lot of attention to detail was given with the video transfer of “Argo” as well. The detail in the movie was absolutely superb; shot on film it shows a very nice layer of natural looking film grain over the entire picture. Never getting in the way of the detail, the grain instead helps give the film that authentic late 70s, early 80’s type of feel. Mix that in with the slightly de saturated teal and yellow film tint and we have a film that had me wondering where all the parachute pants were. Colors are bright and colorful and flesh tones are very natural. Besides the yellow and blue color grading to achieve that decades old feel everything felt perfectly natural. Facial detail was impressively well done, every hair and crease was evident on Ben Affleck’s face and you could see even the stray fibers on his suit. Black levels are solid, nothing too inky black, and very well done overall. The only complaint I had was some VERY light haloing around some of the light sources and faces, but that was few and far between. The archival footage from the 70’s is VERY poor, but that is due to the poor conditions that the sources were in rather than any fault of the transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10954[/img]Sadly there is no upgraded audio tracks for this one, and it sports the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track that was available on the Blu-ray. Again, like "Goodfellas", that is not a horrible thing as the audio is rocking, but most new 4K titles are coming out with Atmos so it's become kind of "expected" I guess you could say.
The audio actually surprised me. I was expecting a more subdued track for this type of drama, but instead we are given a masterful audio track. Sound detail was what really impressed me here, the little details such as a car door slamming, or a footstep falling on cobbled streets was replicated with breathtaking clarity. There is a scene where their VW van is being overrun by angry Iranians where the echoing and depth of the inside of one those vans was replicated so well that I almost felt the metal enclosure tightening around myself. Dialogue is firmly centered up front as it should be and that is definitely a plus for such a dialogue based film. Surrounds were used very well, while a good chunk of the movie was dialogue based, there was ample time for the surrounds to light up, the bazaar was a buzz of surround activity with market members yelling at each other ,the sound of cow bells and the general bustling of a busy bazaar. The LFE was another welcome surprise. Whether it be the sounds of a jet taking off on the runway or the sound of a bullet taking a man’s life the amount of low frequency “umph” that came was impressive to say nonetheless.
• Picture in Picture: Eyewitness Account
• Audio Commentary
• Rescued from Tehran: We Were There
• Absolute Authenticity
• The CIA and Hollywood Connection
• Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option
“Argo” has gained much critical acclaim, and rightly so. It stays clear of forcing a political message on the viewer, but rather focuses on what really mattered in this situation, the rescue of six men and women who were held under illegal pretenses in a very rough situation. While it may not win best picture this year according to all predictions, it is a thriller that is breathtaking to behold, from the acting to the directing to the source material itself. Well done on all fronts and mixed with a great audio and video score I cannot recommend this movie enough. This is a definite must buy and a definite feather in Ben Affleck’s cap. The once low grade actor has become one of my favorite directors and is shining his brightest here. Again there is always the issue of "should i upgrade this disc"? Well, there is some good and bad with the 4K release of "Argo". The main detractor is that this is NOT the extended director's cut of the film which came out shortly after the original Blu-ray was released. Being that it was already put to market it would make sense that Warner would put the extended cut for the 4K disc, or at least included the director's cut as the Blu-ray part of the combo pack, but it instead the theatrical release. This happened with the 4K release of "The Town" as well, but with that one I wasn't so nonplussed as the extended director's cut wasn't really any better or worse than the director's cut that was originally shown and put on the 4K set. "Argo" has about 10 minutes of footage that is included in the director's cut, but not here, although, overall It's not THAT big of a deal, as I find the theatrical cut nearly as good as the extended version is in all reality. Once again, the video is the real pull for upgrade here and the upgrade is rather nice at the end of the day. If you want to get the best version of the film (visually speaking) that is available then this is the version for you, however I have a sneaking suspicion that we'll see a 4K version of the extended director's cut sooner or later if history repeats itself. Still a fantastic movie and a must watch in my opinion
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by: Chris Terrio
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French, DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 120 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 6th, 2016
Buy Argo on 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It!
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