‘Argo’ brings history to life

Nathan Fisher

With the recent tragic deaths of the U.S. Ambassador and three Americans in Libya, I decided to watch Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” which reaches back to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, when Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. “Argo,” an amazing thriller, highlights the rescue attempt of the six Americans who actually escaped––buckle up, because this movie is a nail-biter!

“Argo” begins with photos and film clips from 1979, when Iranians revolted and stormed the U.S. Embassy. Just before the embassy was overtaken, six Americans escaped and sought refuge at the Canadian ambassador’s residence (thanks, Canada!). If the Iranians found these escapees, they would be tried as spies and executed. What’s America to do? Enter Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), the CIA’s man who must think of a way to extract the hiding Americans.

The CIA comes up with one bad idea after another until Mendez throws out a crazy scheme: Create a fake science fiction movie, aptly named “Argo,” that a Canadian film team needs to have set in Iran! The selling point for the operation is that “this is the best bad idea we have.” The six Americans are given Canadian cover identities as movie producers, screenwriters, directors or cameramen, and have to be able to absorb and sell their new identities, or be executed. Help is needed, and Hollywood comes to the rescue.

Mendez flies to Hollywood and enlists the help of two Hollywood bigshots, Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), a sharp-tongued producer, and John Chambers (John Goodman), a makeup artist, to help make this a convincing “real” Hollywood movie. Arkin and Goodman’s lovable bromance brings much-needed humor to this tense story. Together, Hollywood and the CIA––unlikely partners––create the best fake movie in history.

“Argo” is a must-see thriller that keeps you parked at the edge of your seat. Taking a true story about politics, espionage, suspense and Hollywood all mixed together makes for one hell of a show. Although Affleck’s beard makes him a bit too woodsy, and the shot of his six-pack abs is unnecessary, “Argo” proves that Ben Affleck is not only a competent actor, but a great director. If “Homeland” has gotten you thinking about a vocation in international relations, “Argo” will seal the deal. This thriller shows that thinking outside the box and smarts are just as important as guns and force in counterintelligence. After seeing “Argo,” I want to be a spy who gets to work with the Hollywood gang!