By William Wolf


Based on a real event, “Argo” combines comedy and suspense in the hands of director Ben Affleck with a screenplay by Chris Terrio. Affleck also has the leading role of Tony Mendez, a CIA operative who hatches a wild scheme to get six members of the U.S. embassy out of Iran in 1979. The embassy in Teheran has been seized with those inside held in the famous hostage crisis. But six have managed to escape and are hidden in the Canadian embassy, but they are in danger of being discovered.

The outrageous idea conceived is to go to Iran to make a Canadian science fiction movie with Iran’s terrain needed for location shooting. The hidden group requiring rescue is to be palmed off as members of the crew. The groundwork is where the comedy comes in as Mendez needs to get Hollywood types on board to do the necessary preparations and pull off the caper. Alan Arkin, playing a veteran Hollywood producer, is convinced to join in the patriotic effort. John Goodman portrays another involved in the bizarre plot.

The fake movie is given the name “Argo,” which has no meaning except the one finally affixed to it in one of the film’s funny lines. Making an imaginary Hollywood movie is fodder for humor, as are all of the detailed preparations. The Iranian authorities need convincing, and a suspenseful episode occurs when the potential escapees go into the streets of Teheran on a supposed scouting location.

Suspense builds as the crunch comes with the need for documents that must be convincing. The plan is so audacious that it could collapse at any moment. The direction and acting make it all believable, which is logical, since we are told this really happened. True or not, “Argo” makes for both amusing and riveting entertainment and a showcase for the seasoned cast, with Affleck, Arkin and Goodman especially in top form.


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