On 4 November 1979 the Iranian revolution reached a boiling point and militants stormed the US embassy in Tehran taking 52 Americans hostage. Six Americans managed to slip away and a covert operation was launched to rescue them. For years the official lie was that the plan was executed by the Canadians. The truth is so far fetched it’s something that Hollywood might think of. But in a brilliant example of truth being stranger than fiction, Argo tells the real life story of how the exfiltration, lead by Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck, who also directs the film) actually happened under the guise of a made-up movie production called Argo.
Argo manages to be both darkly comic and edge-of-seat-sittingly tense as the frantic tale of the rescue of the six unfolds unbelievably over the two hours – not once dragging it’s heels in pace and excitement. It’s a saga that only Hollywood would come up with. And, evidently, the US government. And, I guess, the big chunk of what makes this film so great is that you have to keep reminding yourself that this ACTUALLY HAPPENED. For real. In life. Actually.
Mendez hatched a hair-brained plan to create a cover that the six Americans trapped in Iran were actually six Canadians from a movie crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I know, right?
The humour isn’t limited to just the farcical nature of the actual plan sanctioned (and kept an official secret for years) by the US Government; Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) plays a CIA official who delivers a wonderful deadpan line justifying the plan to a suitably skeptical superior officer : “This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far.”
And John Goodman and Alan Arkin provide a brilliantly wry comic double act as the actual Hollywood executives brought in by the CIA to make the project real.
I highly recommend seeing Argo. – review by Andrew Tidball
Argo is in NZ cinema’s from today, 25 Oct 2012.