25 June 2013
Set in Tehran in 1979, six American officials escape the US Embassy just as it is being overrun by a mob loyal to the new Ayatollah. They end up hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s residence while back in America the security establishment is desperately trying to think of a way to get them out before they are discovered.
Based on a true story, the details of which were not released until long after the event, this is a real nail-biting drama.
The ultimate plan, which many regarded as crazy, involved a CIA agent Tony Mendez (played by the film’s director Ben Affleck) going to Tehran posing as a Canadian film producer, ostensibly to scout settings for a new science fiction film called Argo. He took with him six Canadian passports for the American officials, whom he would bring back as part of the team. Proving that they had originally come to Tehran with him was one of the ‘little problems’ that they had to overcome.
What makes this film so exciting is the truly believable circumstances and the fears of the holed-up officials as they weigh up the alternatives of remaining to meet an uncertain fate or escaping as the ‘film crew’. Their confidence in the likely success of the subterfuge being not a lot greater than that of the officials back in the US.
To lighten the tension there are some truly comical moments.