Serious Movie Lover

Affleck’s Timely True Story Mixes Humor with Tension

By / Friday, October 19, 2012 / Category: Review / No comments

ARGO (2012/IN THEATERS)  Talk about timing!  Ben Affleck’s third film as director and second as lead actor plus director (the other is The Town) opens with all too familiar scenes of riots in a middle eastern setting, complete with angry mobs protesting in the street, the burning of American flags and chanting of anti-American slogans, and ultimately the invasion of our embassy.  It’s not Cairo or Bengazi this time—it’s Tehran.  And for those too young to remember, this scene is part of the Iranian revolution of 1979—an ugly affair that left 52 U.S. embassy employees held hostage for 444 days.  The president at the time was Jimmy Carter and the “Iran hostage crisis” ultimately cost him his 2nd term—he lost the election to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Many scenes in the film are stark reminders of how little has changed for the U.S., Iran and the Middle East, but don’t be discouraged–there’s a wonderful true story at the heart of this movie, one none of us knew at the time.  It starts with 6 embassy employees who were able to escape before capture and were housed in secret by the Canadian ambassador to Iran at his own home.  And who knew?  The CIA worked with both Canada and the Carter State Department to mount a clever and daring rescue of these individuals, right under the noses of the Iranians. The “cover” for their removal was a fake science fiction film, called Argo, complete with storyboards, script, Variety article, and even a production office in Hollywood.  The CIA operative who created this cover was Tony Mendez (Affleck) who is the main character in the movie. He agrees to go to Iran to smuggle out the group of six posing them as a Canadian film crew.  Fabulous.  Helping from Hollywood are John Chambers (John Goodman), a make-up specialist who was famous for Star Wars type costumes, and the ace Producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) who gave the whole cover store legitimacy.  Mendez gets support also from his next up the line, Jack O’Donnell (Brian Cranston) who has his back when he needs it most.  The movie is more than solid—clever, with funny moments, and plenty of suspense and tension.   It has earned a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, from all critics, top critics and audiences alike.  I’m down with that rating—kudos to Ben Affleck and even bigger congrats to the real life people who inspired and lived this story


Grade:             A

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