|Directed by||Ben Affleck|
|Produced by||Grant Heslov|
|Music by||Alexandre Desplat|
|Editing by||William Goldenberg|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release||October 12, 2012|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Argo is a 2012 historical drama thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. This dramatization is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah Bearman's 2007 Wired article The Great Escape. The latter deals with the "Canadian Caper," in which Mendez led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran, during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.
The film stars Affleck as Mendez with Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman in supporting roles, and was released in North America to critical and commercial success on October 12, 2012. The film was produced by Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney. The story of this rescue was also told in the 1981 television movie Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper, directed by Lamont Johnson.
Upon release, Argo received widespread acclaim and seven nominations for the 85th Academy Awards and won three, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Picture. The film also earned five Golden Globe Award nominations, winning Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director, while being nominated for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for Alan Arkin. It won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 19th Screen Actors Guild Awards, with Arkin being nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. It also won Best Film, Best Editing, and Best Director at the 66th British Academy Film Awards.
Argo has been criticized for its portrayal of events; especially for minimizing the role of the Canadian embassy in the rescue, for falsely claiming that the Americans were turned away by the British and New Zealand embassies, and for exaggerating the danger that the group faced during events preceding their escape from the country.
Iranian activists storm the United States embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, in retaliation for President Jimmy Carter giving the Shah asylum in the U.S. during the Iranian Revolution. More than 50 of the embassy staff are taken as hostages, but six escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor. With the escapees' situation kept secret, the U.S. State Department begins to explore options for exfiltrating them from Iran. Tony Mendez, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency exfiltration specialist is brought in for consultation. He criticizes the proposals, but is at a loss when it comes time to propose a rescue, as an alternative. While on the phone with his son, he is inspired by watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes and begins plans for creating a cover story for the escapees: that they are Canadian filmmakers who happened to be in Iran scouting exotic locations for a similar science-fiction film.
Mendez and his supervisor Jack O'Donnell contact John Chambers, a Hollywood make-up artist who had previously crafted disguises for the CIA. Chambers puts them in touch with film producer Lester Siegel. Together they set up a phony film production company, publicize their plans, and successfully establish the pretense of developing Argo, a "science fantasy" in the style of Star Wars, to lend credibility to the cover story. Meanwhile, the escapees grow frantic inside the ambassador's residence. The revolutionaries reassemble embassy photographs shredded before the takeover and learn that some personnel have escaped.
Posing as a producer for Argo, Mendez enters Iran and links up with the six escapees. He provides them with Canadian passports and fake identities to prepare them to get through security at the airport. Although afraid to trust Mendez' scheme, they reluctantly go along with it, knowing that he is risking his own life too. A scouting visit to the bazaar to maintain their cover story takes a bad turn, but their Iranian culture contact gets them away from the hostile crowd.
Mendez is told that the operation has been cancelled to avoid conflicting with a planned military rescue of the hostages. He pushes ahead, forcing O'Donnell to hastily re-obtain authorization for the mission to get tickets on a Swissair flight. Tension rises at the airport, where the escapees' flight reservations are confirmed at the last minute, and a guard's call to the supposed production company in Hollywood is answered at the last second. The group boards the plane, which takes off just as the Revolutionary Guards at the airport uncover the ruse and try to stop them.
To protect the hostages remaining in Tehran from retaliation, all U.S. involvement in the rescue is suppressed, giving full credit to the Canadian government and its ambassador (who left Iran with his wife under their own credentials as the operation was underway; their Iranian housekeeper, who had known about the Americans and lied to the revolutionaries to protect them, escaped to Iraq). Mendez is awarded the Intelligence Star, but due to the mission's classified nature, he would not be able to keep the medal until the details were publicized in 1997. All the hostages were freed on January 20, 1981. The film ends with former President Jimmy Carter's speech about the crisis and the Canadian Caper.
- Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez
- Bryan Cranston as Jack O'Donnell
- Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel
- John Goodman as John Chambers
- Tate Donovan as Robert Anders
- Clea DuVall as Cora Lijek
- Christopher Denham as Mark Lijek
- Scoot McNairy as Joe Stafford
- Kerry Bishé as Kathy Stafford
- Rory Cochrane as Lee Schatz
- Victor Garber as Ken Taylor
- Kyle Chandler as Hamilton Jordan (White House Chief of Staff)
- Chris Messina as Malinov
- Željko Ivanek as Robert Pender
- Titus Welliver as Jon Bates
- Bob Gunton as Cyrus Vance (United States Secretary of State)
- Philip Baker Hall as Stansfield Turner (Director of Central Intelligence) (Uncredited)
- Richard Kind as Max Klein
- Richard Dillane as Peter Nicholls
- Keith Szarabajka as Adam Engell
- Michael Parks as Jack Kirby
- Tom Lenk as Rodd
- Christopher Stanley as Tom Ahern
- Page Leong as Pat Taylor
- Taylor Schilling as Christine Mendez
- Ashley Wood as Beauty
- Barry Livingston as David Marmor, CIA official
- Sheila Vand as Sahar
- Omid Abtahi as Reza
- Karina Logue as Elizabeth Ann Swift
- Adrienne Barbeau as Nina
- Fouad Hajji as Komiteh
- Argo at the Internet Movie Database