Argo: Uninspired and Unsatisfying

29 May

I finally watched best picture winner Argo yesterday (I’m not the only political scientist to watch it so late after its release!). It was a competent genre film that cast a light on the heroic, but largely unsung actions of American intelligence and foreign service officers during a turbulent time in U.S foreign policy. After seeing the film, however, I did not agree with the academy’s decision to award this film the “Best Picture” at this year’s Oscars.

My major issue with this film was not its depiction of politics or international relations (despite my professional expertise), but the license taken with the real story to produce suspense. Argo is a prisoner of its genre, especially in its last 45 minutes when the audience is bombarded with a succession of (false) moments designed to add suspense to the film. By being entirely consistent with the expected tropes of this kind of film, the writers created a false climax that was “safe” for Hollywood executives and mainstream audiences, but also totally uninspired and unsatisfying.

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