Don’t be misled by the title, there’s nothing fake about Ben Affleck’s “Argo.”
Based loosely on CIA specialist, Tony Mendez’s account of the 1979 rescue of six US diplomats from Tehran, Iran; the film uses a gritty style to beautifully tell this nearly unbelievable story.
The film opens with a brief history of Iran, and the United States involvement. For those unfamiliar with our joint past, it’s a revelation.
The documentary-like storytelling progresses until the modern (1979) crisis in Iran is reached.
Public outcry has reached a boiling point, and the US is taking all the blame.
Gathered outside the US Embassy in Tehran, outraged Iranians break through the gate and tear through locked and barred windows and doors.
It’s a frightening scene and enough to make any American’s blood boil, but told carefully and with some context it’s eye-opening.
In the chaos and terror, six embassy employees are able to escape and find refuge at the Canadian ambassador’s (Victor Garber) home.
When word of the six reaches the CIA, a group effort to come up with the craziest rescue attempt commences.
At one point, bicycles are suggested. However, in the end specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with an idea that is just crazy enough to work.
With a little help from Hollywood (John Goodman and Alan Arkin), Mendez plans to sneak the six out of Tehran disguised as a Canadian film crew on a location scouting trip for the new sci-fi film, Argo.
It’s a storyline that would seem absurd if it wasn’t true.
Affleck manages to pull off this heart-wrenching, nail-bitting tale without becoming preachy or bogged down by the details. It’s serious one moment and light-hearted the next.
Given the serious subject matter it be easy to lose focus, but “Argo” keeps you tuned in the whole time, sitting on the edge of your seat and wanting to know if they’ll make it out. Which is saying a lot since most of us know how it ends.
A fantastic ensemble cast, excellent direction and a great true story make this easily one of the best films of the fall season, and a definite Oscar contender.
…just for fun: