The beauty of Ben Affleck's Argo is not just in its stunning period perfect cinematography but in the tautness of the film's storyline. As the true tale of a CIA operative's plan to lead six American foreign service workers out of a revolting Iran in 1980, Argo lays out with crystal clarity what was at stake and builds the dramatic tension strategically until the picture's breathless finale. Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the CIA Moses who is the brains behind the scheme to smuggle out the workers, who were hiding in the home of the Canadian ambassador. He plans to pull them out disguised as a Canadian crew for a sci-fi adventure movie. The idea is absurd but it's greenlighted by Langley and off we go to Tehran where the streets are overlfowing with hatred of all things U.S. Watching the whole affair would be nearly unbearable if Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio had not concocted a delightful parallel storyline about Hollywood finagling and Tinsel Town shenanigans. Brilliant. Argo (the name of the fake film and the real operation) was an incredible mission, sure to fail, and Affleck captures masterfully the confusion, fear and frustation of that operation and of that turbulent period in American history. Quite an achievement, I must say.


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