Argo (2012) Director: Ben Affleck

Argo is the unique and amusing thriller film based on the story of Tony Mendez, a CIA operative during the 1980s.


The story of the film is based on a true story of CIA operatives infiltrating Iran during the hostage crisis in the late 1980s as they go undercover as film-makers for a science fiction movie called “Argo” which they claim to be shooting in Tehran. Tony Mendez infiltrates Iran and delivers fake Canadian passports to the Americans hiding out in Tehran. In addition to Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman also appear in the film.

It is a tense, edge-of-your-seat thriller, particularly at the end in which the whole project is cancelled but Mendez pushes forward anyway and the group of Americans very nearly is not able to escape Iran. The full credit for their escape is officially given by the American government to the Canadian government in order to protect the covert nature of the operation. Mendez receives an award but must instantly return it, to protect his own secrecy until the operation is declassified in 1997. Argo won Best Picture for 2012.

Notably, the news organization VICE uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request that the CIA was involved in the development of the film, as it was with other notable films of the epoch, including Zero Dark Thirty. The film had several producers, including George Clooney.



The film re-enforces a certain degree of trust and respect for the deep state bureaucracy, which has so often been the target, however justified or not, of public outcry. The beauty of the film lies in its classic build-up of tension, using a simple rescue story, without the deployment of huge explosion and large-scale special effects. There are certain minor historical inaccuracies in the film, such as the apparent lack of danger to the group who escaped, and predictably the ever-disgruntled academia criticized the film for portraying ethnic stereotypes, but leaving all this aside Argo is a top-notch film, a well-told modern adventure film.

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