Affleck Stars in and Directs CIA Thriller

Marisa Wherry, Staff Writer

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Ben Affleck directs and stars in Argo, a riveting dramatization of the Canadian Caper mission in which a Affleck’s character, Tony Mendez, is a CIA operative in charge of the mission Argo, in which he must rescue six Americans from the Iran Hostage Crisis.

The movie starts off with hundreds of Iranians chanting and trying to break through the gates of the American embassy on November 4, 1979. When the Iranians successfully break through the barrier, the American embassy workers frantically start shredding papers. Most of the workers decide to stay in the building, hoping that the Iranians won’t get through the U.S. soldiers at the front door. But six American workers venture out onto the streets in hopes of finding a safe haven, and end up hiding out at the Canadian ambassador’s house.

Iranian children from sweatshops work long hours to piece back together files that the Americans managed to shred, constructing a book of pictures of all the American embassy workers. If the CIA doesn’t work quickly, Iranian extremists will soon discover that they are missing six hostages and search for the remaining Americans.

As the hostage situation intensifies, CIA agents work back home to come up with options for a rescue mission. Someone calls in Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to a meeting in which CIA workers are proposing rescue ideas. Mendez shoots down all ideas, saying they’re not plausible. Later that night, as he is watching Planet of the Apes with his son, whom he rarely seems due to trouble with his marriage, an idea strikes him. He, along with the six Americans trapped in Iran, will pretend to be part of a Canadian film crew planning their shooting locations for the movie.

Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and John Chambers (John Goodman) help Mendez set up a fake Canadian film company to back the move Argo while simultaneously supplying much needed comic relief with their antics.

When Mendez enters Iran through a neighboring country to carry out the Argo mission, he sees firsthand what a scary place Iran has become. Graphic visuals, such as a man hanging from a crane by a rope around his neck, paint a nasty picture of a rebellious third world country.

A suspenseful sequence of events then takes place as Mendez tells the six hostages their undercover identities, and they declare Argo a suicide mission. When Mendez and the six hostages arrive at the airport a couple days later, they are interrogated as to why a Canadian film crew would choose such an inconvenient time to visit Iran. The film crew is eventually cleared to take off, but as they board the flight, Iranian children are finishing piecing the pictures together of the six American escapees. The plane begins rolling down the runway, and Iranian forces are pursuing the plane in cars, shooting at the plane.

A huge sigh of relief sweeps over the six Americans as they take off into the air, successfully leaving Iran and its terrors in the dust. In the U.S., cheers erupt in the CIA building and throughout the country.

However, the real message of the movie isn’t driven home until a short scene in which Mendez reunites with his wife and son. The terrifying events of the Argo mission put everything in perspective, and he realizes that the most important thing in life is spending time with your family, because he easily could have died while on bad terms with the most important people in his life. Affleck directs a movie that subtly calls for peace. Argo doesn’t blame the Iranian Hostage Crisis on only American forces for their violent past in Iran or on Iran for their violent overtaking of the Embassy building. Although Argo is an honest representation of the events that occurred in Iran from 1980-1981 (minus the amped up Hollywood action scenes) and could potentially be used as a warning against the horrors of oppressive regimes and violent government rebellions, it’s not by any means a boring history lesson. The lively action scenes and imminent danger pulls the viewer in and has them cheering for the six American escapees, and of course the heroic CIA operative that pulled of a once thought impossible plan.