Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 45 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 45
  2. Negative: 0 out of 45
  1. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    A blue-chip Oscar contender that's also a rousing popcorn movie, Ben Affleck's Argo offers plenty of nail-biting thrills as well as funnier scenes than you'd ever imagine possible in the grim context of the Iran hostage crisis.
  2. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    The main source of astonishment is the precision exhibited everywhere, from the slyly vintage look of Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography to the gradual, cinching tension in Chris Terrio's careful screenplay.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    A superbly crafted and darkly funny real-life political thriller, with pitch-perfect performances.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    The results are nothing less than sensational.
  5. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    It's a doozy of a story and so borderline ridiculous that it sounds - ta-da! - like something that could have been cooked up only by Hollywood.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    Argo is movie magic. Ben Affleck's third directorial outing, is an entertaining, real-life, race-the-clock thriller that nabs you at the start and never makes a wrong move.
  7. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Oct 11, 2012
    100
    Among many things that make the taut thriller Argo remarkable is this one: It depicts a 1980 rescue of American hostages from Iran yet begins by pointing out that the United States was partly responsible for the situation.
  8. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 10, 2012
    100
    Argo the real movie about the fake movie, is both spellbinding and surprisingly funny.
  9. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Oct 10, 2012
    100
    Simply put, Argo is why we go to movies.
  10. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Oct 10, 2012
    100
    Argo works superbly on two levels, first as a white-knuckle re-enactment of events in Iran and scrambling strategies in Washington.
  11. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Oct 9, 2012
    100
    Argo is a triumph. It has tension, sincerity, mystery, artistic responsibility, entertainment value, technical expertise, a narrative arc and a thrilling respect for the tradition of how to tell a story with minimum frills and maximum impact. It's a great footnote to history, one of the best films of 2012 and a sure-fire contender on Oscar night.
  12. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Oct 3, 2012
    100
    Argo is never less than wildly entertaining, but a major part of its power is that it so ominously captures the kickoff to the world we're in now.
  13. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Sep 8, 2012
    100
    If there was any doubt Ben Affleck has turned into an exceptional director, his wildly entertaining, pulse-pounding thriller Argo will handily erase those thoughts.
  14. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Sep 10, 2012
    91
    Extraordinarily suspenseful, extremely well-told and effortless in its complex tonal balance.
  15. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Oct 11, 2012
    90
    To Ben Affleck's credit, he's made a terrific, pulse-elevating thriller that will leave the audience cheering.
  16. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 11, 2012
    90
    Affleck easily orchestrates this complex film with 120 speaking parts as it moves from inside-the-Beltway espionage thriller to inside Hollywood dark comedy to gripping international hostage drama, all without missing a step.
  17. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Oct 11, 2012
    90
    By its final fade, Argo feels like more than just a thriller - even a thriller with real thrills and serious Oscar buzz. It feels like a window on events that led to the world we live in now.
  18. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Oct 10, 2012
    90
    A "gritty" historical drama overwhelmed by its love of Hollywood as an inventor of imaginary narratives with real consequences, a great generator of American bedtime stories whose magic works on suburban kids and foreign enemies alike.
  19. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 8, 2012
    90
    Argo is a crackerjack political thriller told with intelligence, great period detail and a surprising amount of nutty humor for a serious look at the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81.
  20. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Oct 11, 2012
    88
    This captivating, expertly machined political thriller jumps through every hoop the naysayer can set up: It's serious and substantive, an ingeniously written and executed drama fashioned from a fascinating, little-known chapter of recent history.
  21. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Oct 11, 2012
    88
    Before it turns into a great escape flick, Argo is an amusing spoof of the movie biz.
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Oct 11, 2012
    88
    Just so we're straight, Ben Affleck doesn't merely direct Argo, he directs the hell out of it, nailing the quickening pace, the wayward humor, the nerve-frying suspense.
  23. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Oct 11, 2012
    88
    Argo's white-knuckle nail-biter of a climax takes liberties with how events played out in real life. But while Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio have opted to go Hollywood, it's high-class Hollywood, not the low-rent and exploitative route that the make-believe movie at the heart of this tale would have taken.
  24. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Oct 11, 2012
    88
    In the populist vein of Ron Howard's "Apollo 13," Affleck's rouser salutes the Americans (and, more offhandedly, the Canadians) who restored our sense of can-do spirit when we needed it.
  25. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Oct 10, 2012
    88
    Recognizing that many of the movie's elements are lifted from actual events elevates the importance of what the movie has to say.
  26. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Oct 12, 2012
    83
    In some ways the movie might have been better if it had been about those two Hollywood guys with only occasional blips from the hostage crisis in Iran.
  27. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Oct 11, 2012
    83
    The period details are spotless, kindling memories of those days of yellow ribbons and nightly news updates on the fate of the American hostages.
  28. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Oct 10, 2012
    83
    Only the finale threatens to undo all that hard work. Though well-done, the last act leans less on the facts of the case than on Hollywood contrivances, heightening the tension with embellishments that feel at odds with the methodical, deliberate film leading up to them.
  29. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 10, 2012
    83
    Equally a slick political thriller, intelligent period piece and sly Hollywood satire, Ben Affleck's Argo maintains a careful balance between commentary and entertainment value.
  30. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Nov 5, 2012
    80
    An old-school espionage thriller with a movie-biz comedy twist, all the better for being (almost) entirely true. It is to Ben Affleck's credit that the tension and laughs complement rather than neutralise each other.
  31. Reviewed by: Richard Jordan
    Oct 17, 2012
    80
    Combining laughs and thrills with plenty of verve, Ben Affleck continues his smart directorial career with a stylish, gripping hostage drama.
  32. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Oct 12, 2012
    80
    Sharp, brisk and highly entertaining.
  33. 80
    A marvel of cunning, an irresistible blend of cool realism and Hollywood hokum.
  34. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Sep 8, 2012
    80
    Ultimately, the thrill of Argo is in watching how the illusion-making of movies found such an unlikely application on the world political stage, where the stakes were literally life and death.
  35. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Oct 10, 2012
    78
    Affleck's greatest talent, however, may lie in his casting instincts: In addition to the above-mentioned turns by Arkin and Goodman, stand-out performances are also delivered by Bryan Cranston as Mendez's boss and Victor Garber as the morally heroic Canadian ambassador to Iran.
  36. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    Argo is a movie of many parts, the sum of which can probably be best described as enjoyable Hollywood hokum.
  37. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    This is a talky picture, based on a historical incident where the outcome is already known – yet it still proves much more engrossing than crime dramas or bank robberies.
  38. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    The primary weakness of Affleck's film is the actor himself, who can't seem to find much in "exfiltration" specialist Tony aside from a dedication to his work and sorrow over the potential breakup of his family.
  39. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    Argo is absurdly suspenseful for both of its hours. I've never been this stressed-out watching people shred documents.
  40. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Oct 12, 2012
    70
    Argo isn't quite on the level of the Sidney Lumet classics to which Affleck pays stylistic homage - smart and taut as it is, it lacks the broader political vision of a film like "Dog Day Afternoon." But Lumet lite still goes down pretty smooth.
  41. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Oct 8, 2012
    70
    Finally, a voice-over from Jimmy Carter, lauding the efforts of those involved. All this is, frankly, uncool - a pity, because the rest of Argo feels clever, taut, and restrained.
  42. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Oct 9, 2012
    60
    No performances stand out, which is a shame given Affleck's track record with actors. Ultimately, it comes down to a chase to the airport, with a scary Revolutionary Guardsman at the gate.
  43. Reviewed by: Henry Barnes
    Sep 8, 2012
    60
    There's a degree of puffery in the writing, however, that makes this drama untrustworthy.
  44. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Oct 11, 2012
    50
    Undeniably rousing, but deeply irresponsible, Argo fans the flames surrounding historical events likely to still remain raw in the memory of many viewers.
  45. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Sep 10, 2012
    50
    In terms of quality, though, Argo is just so-so.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 772 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 14 out of 174
  1. Oct 12, 2012
    10
    Argo is a triumph. It has tension, sincerity, mystery, artistic responsibility, entertainment value, technical expertise, a narrative arc and a thrilling respect for the tradition of how to tell a story with minimum frills and maximum impact. It's a great footnote to history, one of the best films of 2012 and a sure-fire contender on Oscar night. Full Review »
  2. Feb 11, 2013
    0
    A one-sided self-satisfying nationalist and political propaganda film with no real suspense and substance. With highly-implausible inventions to reality that make it look stupid to the audience with some common sense and minimum level knowledge of the situation. The silly car chase on the airport runway or the lack of explanation for why the airliner is not turned back to the airport by the control tower, or the American women wandering provocatively (taking photos) among the Muslim Persians with no head-covering (the stupidest thing of all), etc. Full Review »
  3. Oct 12, 2012
    10
    What can I say about this movie. It's an engaging view into the workings of the CIA, the events during the Iranian hostage crisis, the life inside a foreign counsulate and Hollywood. While we get mainly glimpses, they are so well executed that we come out of this feeling like we have the insider info on how they all work.

    The performances are riveting as well as very real in their delivery. I never felt like I was watching actors in a movie, I was watching things as they transpired almost 40 years ago.

    Ben Affleck has solidified himself as a great actor and director with Argo.
    Full Review »