ARGO (Ben Affleck, 2012)
In theaters now
The little-known story of an unusual rescue attempt of six American diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis is told in Ben Affleck’s gripping, nearly flawless thriller, Argo. On November 4, 1979, the American embassy was overtaken by Iranian militants, but a half dozen men and women — Bob Anders (Tate Donovan), Cora Lijek (Clea DuVall), Mark Lijek (Christopher Denham), Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy), Kathy Stafford (Kerry Bishé), and Lee Schatz (Rory Cochrane) — escaped and were given shelter by Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). A stymied U.S. State Department turns to CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) and his boss, Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), who come up with a bizarre plan to pretend they are making a Canadian movie in Iran, using that as a guise to get the six embassy employees out of the country. Affleck gets real-life producer Les Siegel (a rioutous Alan Arkin) and makeup maestro John Chambers (John Goodman) to maintain a Hollywood office as the plan kicks into gear, with Affleck serving as the producer in Iran and assigning fake behind-the-scenes roles to the six men and women as the terrorists searching for them grow ever closer. Written by Chris Terrio (Heights) and produced by Affleck with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Argo is a superbly made thriller with expert pacing, a strong cast, and a knuckle-biting story that will captivate Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Tension is high throughout, with just the right amount of humor and sentimentality, leading to a breathtaking finale. With Argo, one of the best films of the year, Affleck once again proves himself as a big-time director, following the success of 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and 2010’s The Town.