On November 4, 1979, a group of young Iranian revolutionaries break into the US Embassy in Tehran in protest of the United States’ support of the deposed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Then President Jimmy Carter has allowed Pahlavi to enter the United States, and the revolutionaries demand that he be returned to be tried and hanged. All of the employees inside the embassy are held hostage, save for six US diplomats who are able to sneak out of the building. The six escapees manage to get to the Canadian embassy, but are stuck there. To take them out, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) of the CIA devises a plan so crazy it just might work: create a cover story that the six escapees are not diplomats working for the US Embassy, but are Canadian filmmakers scouting for a location in Iran for a science fiction film called “Argo”.
I have been telling people to watch the Affleck-directed films Gone Baby Gone and The Town, but these are small films that get pulled out of the cinemas after a week or so. I am happy that more people will be able to see this film on the big screen. Argo is a completely immersive experience. It nails the grainy look of 70’s thrillers, it stars the best ensemble cast I have ever seen in a film (Bryan Cranston! Alan Arkin! John Goodman!), it has plenty of humor but can be edge-of-your-seat tense, and it is a political thriller that tells the story as best as it can without simplifying the politics.
This is based on a true story, so right at the start you are already given the biggest spoiler of them all – they will be saved. DUH. I knew that, but listen: during the film, I completely forgot. And that there’s the mark of a skillful storyteller. Daredevil what? Give all of the awards to Ben Affleck. (And while you’re at it, can you please tell him to please direct another film with Casey Affleck in it please?)