Ben Affleck directs and stars in the new political thriller called ARGO, one of the best, most entertaining films of the year. It's based on the true story of a daring rescue of half a dozen people trapped in Iran during the hostage crisis in 1979.
How they got out of the country was the result of a most unlikely collaboration: the C.I.A. worked with a makeup artist and a producer from Hollywood.
After rioters attacked the American embassy in Tehran, 52 Americans were taken hostage, but six others escaped out the back door and went into hiding at the Canadian ambassador's home.
It took awhile for the Iranians to discover that the six has escaped, but then the Revolutionary Guard began going door to door looking for them.
Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a C.I.A. operative who comes up with a unique idea for getting the six Americans out.
Mendez: They're a Canadian film crew for a science fiction movie. I fly into Tehran. we all fly out together as a film crew.
So he goes to Hollywood and meets with makeup artist played by John Goodman.
Mendez: I need you to help me make a fake movie.
Makeup Artist: So you wanna come to Hollywood, act like a big shot without actually doing anything?
Makeup Artist: You'll fit right in.
Alan Arkin plays the producer they hire to make the world believe they're really going to make a film that will use Iran for some of the locations.
Producer: If I'm doin' a fake movie, it's gonna be a fake hit.
What's most surprising about ARGO is how funny this nail biting, edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller can be at times.
But the movie also feels very real. It's even realistic about how the bureaucracy works. Upper management at the C.I.A. resists the Mendez plan.
Top Boss: You have a better bad idea than this?
Lower Boss: This is the best bad idea we have, sir.
And when Mendez does get to Iran, he also has to convince the six Americans in hiding.
"You've gotten people out his way before?" asks one of the six.
"No," Mendez replies.
"You're asking us to trust you with our lives," says the man.
Mendez: "This is what I do, and I've never left anyone behind."
What choice do the six Americans have? Soon they are memorizing the resumes of the cover identities created for them as members of a film crew. One is the director, another the cinematographer, etc.
It's refreshing to see a suspenseful thriller that's based so solidly in reality, especially one so well directed and well acted as ARGO.
Don't miss it.