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Blu-ray Review: Argo

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Hollywood is widely regarded as the master class for story telling throughout much of the world, but what happens when the story telling manages to affect the outcome of world politics? That’s a strange question, but just the question posed by our friends out at Warner Brothers, who sent over a copy of “Argo” for review. This one hits shelves today, so you’ll have your opportunity to get hands on this one right away.

“Argo” follows a true story, recently declassified, about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. On November 4, Iranian militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 hostages in the process. But six Americans slip out of the embassy and take shelter in Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor’s home.

With the Iranian revolutionary forces closing in, it’s going to take something like a miracle to get those six folks home alive. That’s where the CIA comes in with a plan so bold, unique, and so utterly lunatic that it’s hard to believe at first gasp. But that’s the position in which we find ourselves, as the CIA attempts to recover the six using a plan that’s so outlandish that it can only be made in Hollywood.

When a movie can put Bryan Cranston and John Goodman in the same cast, and without it being a comedy, I’m certainly paying attention. And given how the first ten minutes of this goes, it’s keeping it for some time to come. I haven’t seen a display quite so hair-raising since the first time I saw the “Dawn of the Dead” remake. Watching the whole affair come together, and then ultimately get executed, is a downright delight. It’s surprisingly thrilling, and with a little bit of humor thrown in to cut the tension and add value to the experience.

Of course, there are some problems with such a setup; it’s a foregone conclusion how this will all end, making the “hair-raising” part of somewhat limited. Naturally, there will be some dramatic liberties taken with the history here for the sake of keeping the narrative together, but history buffs will likely be put off.

“Argo” is stuffed full of special features, including a featurette detailing an eyewitness account from within revolutionary Iran, a section of stories from the survivors of the Iran hostage crisis, a featurette involving Ben Affleck’s preparation for the film, a featurette involving the CIA’s connection to the Iran hostage crisis, a featurette from the Canadian government’s perspective, and a commentary track from both director Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio. There is also a trailer for “Beautiful Creatures”, as well as a host of subtitles, including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean. Several audio tracks are also available, though not quite as many as the subtitles. There will also be a DVD version included with the Blu-ray, and a digital version through Ultraviolet.

For the most part, however, “Argo” is an excellent film that will alternately put you on the edge of your seat and knock you off it with a good hearty laugh every so often. A well-done piece that crackles with suspense and thrills, “Argo” is very much worth watching.

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