Argo


The original Argo poster.

If the Americans had done the right thing in the first place and had not sheltered an Iranian war criminal, returning him to his own country for trial, their Criminal Intelligence Agency would not have had to set up the rescue of six of their embassy staff from the home of the Canadian Ambassador and his wife in Tehran in 1979 and the remainder of their embassy staff would not been held hostage for 444 days!

Ben Affleck’s third directorial outing, following two crime drama’s, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and 2010’s The Town, is a very exciting thriller based on what has become known as the ‘Canadian Caper’ a CIA operation which was classified until 2007. Argo (2012) starts by informing the audience about the background that led up to the daring rescue performed by the CIA technical Operations Officer Tony Mendez. In 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States and following Iran’s nationalisation of it’s oil industry, the democratically elected government of Iran was overthrown and the Shah, Mohammed-Reza Pahlavi, was elevated from being constitutional Monarch to an authoritarian one, at the same time becoming heavily reliant on the support and backing of the USA. In 1979 the Iranian peoples, who had become sick of the ruling junta’s socially unjust regime, overthrew the Shah. His regime had been oppressive, brutal, and corrupt and allegedly was pocketing vast fortunes that should have been used for the good of his impoverished citizens.

Tony Mendez and Ben Affleck.

The movie, which is based loosely on Mendez book The Master of Disguise, illustrates what happened when a group of Islamist students and revolutionaries took over the American Embassy in Tehran and held hostage 52 Americans demanding that the Shah return to Iran for trial. Six of the embassy’s diplomats evaded capture and ended up in the Canadian Ambassadors home. It was Mendez that cooked up the improbable scenario of getting the six out of the country under the guise of a Hollywood film party who were in the country to scout locations for a fake Star Wars type film to be called Argo. The six plus Mendez were too travel using Canadian passports.

Bitter Iranians rush the US Embassy to demand the return of the Shah for trial.

This riveting political thriller is a film you can really enjoy, even if it has been tweaked a little for dramatic effect. Its certainly one that will keep you on the edge of your seat for what seems a very brief couple of hours. Relieving what is with out doubt a serious story, are the great in jokes about the movie business when Hollywood make up artist John Chambers, played by John Goodman and the fictional film producer Lester Siegal, Alan Arkin, are both on the screen.

American hostages.

Full marks must go to Ben Affleck for acknowledging the Wests shameful role in installing the Shah in the first place, but then that should not be too surprising as he is a friend of the late US historian Howard Zinn, a man who dedicated his life to educating American citizens about their nations destructive foreign policy. Interesting to see what Affleck tackle’s next?     

The embassy is held for a total of 444 days!