Plenty has been said about Argo as a quality, Oscar-worthy film.
Ben Affleck continues his rebirth in Hollywood, directing and starring in his first film since 2010’s surprising success, The Town.
Based on the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis, Argo focuses on CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) as he works to rescue six American embassy workers who escaped during a revolt.
Mendez works together with Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and Producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to construct fake movie credentials to sneak the six out of the country to safety.
Argo was shot in a retro-style, matching the big glasses and ridiculous hairstyles to complete the feeling of a period piece. A strong script and the solid, scene-stealing performances from Arkin, Goodman and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston place this film square in the middle of the Oscar talk.
Perhaps the most crucial part of the movie is being ignored. As President Obama and Mitt Romney square off in the final debate, foreign policy moves into the spotlight, something Argo brings up in the first scenes.
The revolution in Iran that sparked the revolts against the U.S. stemmed from a coup that was put in place by the U.S government to return oil fields to British and American companies. The movie also references the unrest in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion at the end of 1979, which the U.S. supplied the Afghan people (including one Osama Bin Laden) to suppress.
Argo directly and indirectly brings into question many of the United States’ foreign policy decisions. The ‘number one’ mentality that Americans have held dear is no longer an illusion that can be kept up.
It’s not just about past or present wars. The current sanctions against Iran continue to cripple the Iranian economy and any hope of progression in their society or relationship with the West.
Right or wrong, many of the U.S. policies have caused damages to the many, punishing the many for the crimes of the few. The debate with a focus on foreign policy has a chance to bring more of these issues to light, including the struggles in the Middle East, the EU crisis and a continued embargo on Cuba.
Viewers are more likely to find positioning and rhetoric, but it should bring up questions, leading to an investigation of our positions in foreign politics. Whatever the resulting thoughts, it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Moviegoers may have just seen a quality film from one of the best up-and-coming directors in Hollywood, but Argo is far more. It’s a representation of the effects of foreign policy and a cautionary tale for the future.