Film Release: Argo

BEN AFFLECK’S third outing as a director – after Gone Baby Gone and The Town – is one of those stories that’s so outlandish that you’d swear they were making up, if you didn’t know the whole remarkable tale was true.

When Iranians stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, they took 52 Americans hostage but they didn’t know that six members of staff escaped through a back door and hid out in the nearby residence of the Canadian ambassador.

Affleck plays the leading role of CIA “extractor”

Tony Mendez who concocts a plan – the best of a bad bunch of ideas, he admits – to get the six out of the country.

The agency will set up a fake Hollywood sci-fi movie called Argo and send Mendez to Iran posing as a producer looking for suitable locations. Then he’ll lead the six, posing as production crew, out of the country on a normal flight at the security-conscious airport.

Affleck the director exploits the best of both worlds. On the one hand, there’s the satirical comedy of Hollywood producer Alan Arkin and make-up artist John Chambers launching the fake movie to give the plan some credence. This is in stark contrast to the nail-biting tension as the six make their bid for freedom with the Iranians growing ever closer to discovering their hiding place.

The Oscar buzz surrounding Argo – Affleck’s film not the fake sci-fi one – is more than justified.

Steve Pratt

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