Set during the Iranian Revolution and based on an actual declassified CIA operation, Argo is the gripping tale of an impossible rescue. In 1979, protestors stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took dozens of hostages, save for six diplomats who had escaped through a back exit. Ben Affleck (The Town) plays CIA operative Tony Mendez. He and officer Jack O’Donnell (Breaking Bad) are responsible for getting the six survivors from the Canadian Ambassador’s house in Tehran safely to the United States. Out of time and completely desperate, Mendez develops an unconventional rescue plan: arriving in Tehran with fake IDs to convince the authorities that he is a director and the six diplomats are a Canadian film crew for his science fiction movie.

Argo was probably the most well made movie of the year. Slight historical inaccuracies (creative liberties?) aside, the storyline was really solid. I often want to praise the film’s writers for dreaming up such an absurd, cool, and creative premise, but then I remember these events actually happened. The casting was also excellent; John Goodman (The Big Lebowski) had a hilarious role as John Chambers, a Hollywood makeup effects artist who Mendez calls upon to give the fake movie credibility. Ben Affleck, the director and lead actor, gave one of the best performances of his career. As Hollywood parties, faux storyboards, and alien prosthetics collided with civil unrest, an increasingly grim hostage situation, and the looming prospect of the mission failing, Mendez carried the story forward with resilience, persistence, and humor. A suspenseful and funny mix of genres, Argo is one of the most surprising and memorable movies to come around in a long time.

White House official: “You don’t have a better bad idea than this?”
Jack O’Donnell: “This is the best bad idea we have, Sir. By far.”