Argo 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
It’s a shame, but ARGO now seems more famous for the award it didn’t get nominated for (Best Director at the Academy Awards) than for all of the awards it has won (the majority of Best Picture and Best Director awards not named Oscar). There’s a reason it has won most of the awards in 2012; it’s one of the best movies to come out in 2012 and clicks on all levels, firmly establishing director Ben Affleck as one of the best storytellers working today.
ARGO is based off the true story of how CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) organized a rescue mission to extract six Americans that were being held captive in Iran in 1980. It’s a story that’s so crazy, it has to be true. To get out the hostages, Mendez devised a plan to go into Iran posing as a Hollywood crew, scoping out locations for a new science fiction movie, titled “Argo”; the idea being that each hostage member would be part of the film crew; writer, set designer, cameraman, etc. Obviously, Iran was not a great place for Americans back in the early 80’s and so the crew ran into several obstacles, which made the second half of the film one nail biting scene after another. I actually knew the story before I saw the movie and I still found myself nervous for everyone involved, which is a testament to how great of a director Ben Affleck has become over the years.
When I try to identify the star of the film, it’s Ben Affleck the director more so than Ben Affleck the actor. Although he was brilliant in his portrayal of Tony Mendez, his talented directing is what makes ARGO so great. Affleck did a masterful job balancing the seriousness of hostages trapped in Iran with the typical ridiculousness of Hollywood. He made it funny, but not so much it couldn’t be taken seriously and he made it intense, but not overbearing. It’s amazing how much he’s grown as a director and how he manages to improve upon every outing. GONE BABY GONE was also a great film, but ARGO is on another level.
One of the things that I feel gets lost in the praise of ARGO is the human element in the film. The six hostages collectively act as one character, but together, they grow throughout the film. They start out nervous and scared of their own shadow and then find the confidence within them to make their way through the Iranian airport. Once again, Affleck captures this beautifully, using a close-up shot of his own expression while Joe (Scoot McNairy) is convincing the guard that they’re really a film crew. In that scene, Mendez was completely helpless and for the first time, had to rely on someone else to save the day. It’s a great moment and a very powerful scene that had the perfect amount of subtlety to it; a sign of a director at the top of his game.
We’ve seen movies about the government enlisting the help of Hollywood to put on a fake movie in order to satisfy ulterior motives, such as WAG THE DOG and THE LAST SHOT, but none have taken on such serious subject matter and none have done it so well. Let’s face it; most movies about Hollywood are self-serving wastes of time, but ARGO is not so much about Hollywood or the filmmaking process (although there are plenty of jokes at Hollywood’s expense), but it’s more about average Americans putting their faith in one guy that his crazy idea will get them out of a dangerous situation unscathed. When broken down to the human level, ARGO is a powerful film and one that deserves the recognition its received.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: ARGO was shot with a naturally “grainy” look to match the 70’s timeframe and so don’t let that fool you into thinking this isn’t a very nice presentation. The dark colors are much more deep and any scene shot in the day has a nice depth and clarity to it that was missing in the Blu-ray. ARGO my not end up being the reference disc to show off to your friends, but it’s a significant upgrade over the Blu-ray and looks fantastic on UHD.
Audio: The same DTS audio track from the Blu-ray is found on the UHD.
There are no 4K exclusive features included on the 4K disc, but it does include a copy of the Blu-ray and you can read our review by clicking ARGO Blu-ray Review.