Ben Affleck's award-winning thriller comes to Blu-ray packed with extras
In November 1979, the US embassy in Tehran was overrun by a pro-Ayatollah force that took the personnel hostage. While the world watched the crisis unfold, what nobody outside of the US government knew was that six officials had managed to escape and were holed up in secret at the Canadian ambassador's residence.
The question of how to smuggle them safely out of Iran was answered by CIA 'exfil' specialist Tony Mendez. Together with the help of some contacts in Hollywood (including Planet of the Apes make-up artist John Chambers), Mendez concocted a crazy plan that would see him masquerading as a producer and establishing the hidden officials as his Canadian film crew while scouting possible locations in Iran for a fake sci-fi movie called Argo.
It's easy to be cynical and say that the real reason Hollywood has taken Argo to its heart and showered it with awards is because it shows the film industry doing some good in the world. However, that would do a serious disservice to director/star Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio – and completely overlook the fact that the duo has used the material to craft a tense and witty film that utterly convinces (no matter how ludicrous the story may seem). The ensemble cast is excellent and the recreation of the era is painstaking. Brilliant.
Picture: Affleck's desire to make his film look just as much a part of the late '70s as the events it depicts reaches as far as the use of the old 'triple slash' Warner Bros. logo and the dense layer of film grain that continually swarms the screen.
The fact that this Blu-ray release handles this particular element of the image so deftly is just one of the many strengths of the film's 2.40:1-framed 1080p AVC encode. Other plus points include its accuracy in recreating the deliberately desaturated colour palette, the satisfying black levels and clean delineation.
So, even if the overall effect is an image that is more subdued than something like Skyfall, you've got to admit that it's an accurate recreation of how Argo looked when it played at cinemas.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: Heavy on dialogue, Argo isn't necessarily the sort of movie that lends itself to explosive surround sound action, but we were pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Scenes with angry crowds protesting on the streets surge with aggressive use of the rear channels; bass-heavy rotors will have you cowering for cover with the escaped officials. When it needs to be, it's stirring stuff, while the tight script is well-delivered.
Audio rating: 4/5
Extras: This Blu-ray packs in plenty of goodies – not least a new 130-minute 'Extended Cut' alongside the original 122-minute theatrical release.
Also on offer are an excellent picture-in-picture track featuring commentary from many of those involved in the real event, an audio commentary by the filmmakers, three featurettes (two about the making of Argo and one that works likes a condensed version of the picture-in-picture video) and a 47-minute 2005 TV documentary.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: This excellent thriller comes to Blu-ray with strong AV credentials and fascinating bonus features
Warner Home Video, All-region BD, £25 Approx, On sale now
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
Want the latest issue of Home Cinema Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!
Want to see your home cinema system featured in the pages of HCC? Click here for more info.
Love home cinema? Sign up to our emails for the latest news and special offers!
Home Cinema Choice is proud to be a member of EISA.
Visit www.eisa.eu for more info.