Directed by:
Ben Affleck

Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Ben Affleck

Release date:
Fri 12, Oct 2012

    Argo is a 2012 American thriller film directed by Ben Affleck based loosely on Tony Mendez's(former CIA operative) account of the historical rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film stars Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, and was released in North America on October 12, 2012. The film was co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, who previously collaborated on the critically acclaimed Good Night, and Good Luck.


      The film opens with a brief history of Iran. In 1950, Mohammed Mossadegh was elected Prime Minister of Iran. One of his goals was to nationalize Iran's oilfields owned by Great Britain and the United States. In response to this, the CIA and British intelligence orchestrated a military coup in 1953 toppling Mossedegh and reinstalling the Shah. In his twenty six year reign the Shah was ruthless and repressive using his secret police to maintain strict and harsh rule. He then began to Westernize Iran which ignited fury amongst fundamentalist Muslims in the country. It finally reached a boiling point in 1979 when the Shah was overthrown and fled the country. He was quickly replaced by the long exiled Ayatollah Khomeini. In October, the Shah who had cancer sought refuge in the U.S. inciting fury in Iran.
      On November 4, 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, a group of young Iranian revolutionaries took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran in retaliation for the country's support of the recently deposed Shah. Although most of the embassy staff are taken as hostages, six evade capture and hide in the home of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). With the escapees' situation kept secret, the State Department begins to explore options for "exfiltrating" them from Iran. CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), brought in for consultation, points out the fundamental weaknesses in all of the proposals for how to do so, but is at a loss to suggest an alternative until he gets an idea while watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes on TV with his son: create a cover story that the escapees are Canadian filmmakers, scouting "exotic" locations in Iran for a similar film.
      Mendez and his supervisor Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston) contact John Chambers (John Goodman), a Hollywood make-up artist who has previously crafted disguises for the CIA in addition to his work in the Apes film series. Chambers puts them in touch with film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). Together they set up a phoney film studio and successfully establish the pretense of developing Argo, a "science fantasy" in the style of Star Wars, to lend credibility to the cover story. Meanwhile, the situation in Tehran is getting more strained as the months pass, with the escapees growing frantic inside the ambassador's residence. Shredded documentation from the US embassy is being reassembled, providing the revolutionaries with evidence that there are embassy personnel unaccounted for.
      Mendez enters Iran through standard channels under an alias, acquiring documentation of his visit as a producer for Argo. He goes to the ambassador's home and explains his plan to the six escapees, providing them with fake Canadian passports and extensive information about their fake identities to help them convincingly bluff their way through security at the airport. Although they are afraid to trust Mendez's scheme, they reluctantly agree to go along with it, knowing that Mendez is risking his own life too, and convinced that it is their only option. A "scouting" visit to the bazaar to maintain their cover story goes somewhat poorly, but Mendez manages to extricate them from the suspicious crowd.
      Mendez is informed that the operation has been cancelled, to avoid conflicting with a planned military rescue of the hostages. He pushes ahead nevertheless, forcing O'Donnell to hastily demand of his superiors to reactivate logistical support. At the airport there is tension as the escapees' flight reservations are only confirmed at the last minute, a call to the supposed studio in Hollywood at first goes unanswered, and revolutionaries who have uncovered their ruse rush to stop them. But they successfully board the plane, which takes off with revolutionary forces in close pursuit.
      To protect the hostages remaining in Tehran from further retaliation, all US involvement in the caper is suppressed, giving full credit to the Canadian government and its ambassador (who fled Iran with his wife under their own credentials as the operation was underway; their Iranian housekeeper, who had known about the Americans, escapes to Iraq). Mendez is awarded the Intelligence Star, but due to the classified nature of the mission, he would not be able to keep the medal until the details were made public in 1997. All the hostages are later freed on January 20, 1981. The film ends with Jimmy Carter giving a speech about the Crisis and the Canadian Caper, with screenshots from the film being contrasted with images of the actual people and events during the crisis.



External links:

"Main Page." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 Oct  2012. <>. 



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