When the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun by an angry mob of militant, Iranian revolutionaries in November 1979, 52 American embassy workers were taken hostage for what would become a 444-day ordeal broadcast around the globe. “Argo” documents a previously classified element of the Iranian hostage crisis and is the true story of the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, who escaped the embassy and found refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. With their identities slowly but surely being pieced together by the revolutionary guard, “The Six” had only one hope: CIA exfil (exfiltration) expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck).
Tony’s grand plan to rescue them? Create a fake Canadian sci-fi film, Argo, scouting locations in Tehran, Iran, and sneak the six out in the light of day. To make the whole scheme look legitimate, Tony recruited two movie-industry veterans – producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and an Oscar-winning makeup specialist, John Chambers (John Goodman) – who write a script, create storyboards, hire a cast, and literally set up a studio overnight.
Goodman and Arkin steal the show with their delivery of some of the smartest lines from the box-office this year. “You want to come into Hollywood and act like a big shot without doing anything?” asks Goodman’s character rhetorically. “You’ll fit right in!”
In fact the entire cast delivers stellar performances making the movie all the more enjoyable.
Filled with nuance and a profound respect for the story that’s being told, “Argo” is Affleck’s third directorial effort and is yet another demonstration of his skill as a great storyteller. As far as thrillers go “Argo” is a magnificent affair that will keep you at the edge of your seat, despite the fact that history has already confirmed the outcome.
The verdict: I’ve yet to find anyone who hasn’t loved this movie, and that’s because “Argo” is easily one of the best movies of the year. The fact that it’s based on a true story is icing on the cake. Expect to see this one come Oscar time.
Opened: October 12, 2012
Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman