Ben Affleck's reputation as a director continues to rise. This time he has tackled a story based on an amazing true event: The audacious rescue of six Americans who found shelter in the Tehran home of the Canadian Ambassador at the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. An out- rageous scheme involving a fake movie with a fake Canadian crew sent to scout fake locations for a fake sci-fi film, "Argo," was cooked up by a CIA disguise and exfiltration specialist, who, by the way, served as a real-life consultant on this R-rated thriller.

These guys make this a nail-biter:
  • Ben Affleck ("The Town") is Tony Mendez, the actual hero of this outlandish story, so unbelievable it has to be true. Affleck almost overdoes the way he underplays his role.
  • Bryan Cranston ("Drive") is Jack O'Donnell, the profane boss back at Langley, trying to bridge the divide between the needs of his agent in the field and the incredulity of his superior officers.
  • Alan Arkin ("City Island") is Lester Siegel, a product of Hollywood: caustic wit, jaundiced world-view, and a world-class BS artist.
  • John Goodman ("The Artist") is make-up expert John Chambers, ever the sarcastic conniver, he is Mendez's link to the make- believe world that is essential to the success of this haywire idea.
  • Victor Garber (LOTS of TV) is Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor who, along with his courageous wife, shelters these terrified refugees week after week. You may be sure the American press remembered to thank Canada for this one!
The cast is full of familiar faces, but the six hostages look distractingly real. Director Affleck's flawless blend of newsreel footage, video clips and staged riots make for a white-knuckle experience. Our exhausted screening audience applauded the end, but stayed for the VERY welcome postscripts about the participants.

This is an excellent film based on a painful time in the recent past that many of us remember very, very well. I found the rioting populace to be particularly upsetting. To me, any gathering of fifty or more people is only half-a-zealot away from being a mob, so Affleck had me right where he wanted me! This one is confidently directed and capably acted; who could ask for anything more!

I hope we hear more about this one when it's time for 2012 Academy Award nominations.
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Here is a link to a preview:
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