Argo is an intense thriller that mixes archive footage with painstaking recreation to reproduce the terror of the Iran hostage situation.
The opening of the film is a brief montage which explains Iranian history till 1980. This skilful merging of history and fiction continues throughout the movie, from its opening shot of a burning US flag to the last frame which lingers lovingly on Star Wars toys.
The plot centres on the unusual CIA cover story which was used to extricate six hostages hiding in the Canadian embassy in Tehran. The plan included science fiction, fake advertisements, eccentric Hollywood producers and a fabricated film production. Star Ben Affleck is understated and restrained as the driven and cynical Tony Mendez and John Goodman is suitably eccentric as Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers.
Proving that truth is stranger than fiction, Argo mixes humour and intensity to maintain suspense to the very end. (LR) ***1/2