If not for the free tickets I had won from New Paper, I wouldn’t have chosen to watch this movie, but I am glad I was given this opportunity.
I had trouble remembering the name of the movie title. I asked my movie companion, Aaron, while checking my location into Facebook, if Argo is an abbreviation. He shook his head at my ignorance. (Sometimes it’s frightening to think you child knows more than you.) He told me that Argo is the name of a ship in Greek Mythology. (Am I glad I made him read all the Greek Myth when he was young.)
We both went into the theatre wondering about the connection between Greek Myth and Iranian Hostage crisis, that I knew based on the very brief synopsis I had read about the movie.
The movie, starred and directed by Ben Affleck, is a heart thumping ride throughout. The show started with a brief history of Iran during the 60s and 70s, and how the Shah was toppled. The US gave asylum to the much hated Shah and the Iranians took to street protests for the return of the Shah for trial.
The street protest turned rowdy and the protestors invaded the US embassy. The embassy staff started shredding all documents while awaiting help. Unfortunately, they were captured and taken hostage. Unknown to the takers, six staff managed to escape through the back door and the Canadian Ambassador gave them refuge.
Back at the US, efforts were being made to try to get the hostages out and not implicate Canada in the process. Among the ideas debated, getting the hostages to cycle over the Afghan borders, impersonating them as English teachers or agricultural crop experts. Among these bad ideas, CIA agent Tony Mendez came up with the best of the baddest idea. He would enter Iran as a movie location scout for a science fiction movie, and get the hostages out of Iran as Canadian film crew who had entered with him.
As ridiculous as the plot may sound, it actually succeeded.
Like many movie about deception, the suspense comes from not knowing when the deception will be revealed. The hostages must be credible in their new identities and this was tested at the market place and at the airport, when they were repeatedly quizzed. Or when the Canadian Ambassador’s housekeeper hinted that she knew the true identities of the house guests. Would she tell? My heart was thumping loudly even at the final moment when the hostages manage to board the plane at the last minute with the Iranians chasing behind after they found out the hostages’ true identities.
Although there were more dialogues than actions, there was enough tension to keep one at the edge of your seat. Some injections of comedy by John Goodman and Alan Arkin as the two producers of the fake movie company provided an element of fun.
Watching the movie reminds me of the current Middle East crisis with the portrayal of the collective dysfunctional minds of the people enraged. It’s disturbing to see how unreasonable and inhumane people can become. It was comforting then when we finally learn that the Iranian housekeeper, Sahar, actually saved the hostages by calmly assuring the authorities who came charging to the Canadian embassy that the house guests were really Canadians who had arrived two days ago, and not the truth. Sahar eventually escaped to Iraq.
The fact that this is a true story makes the movie even more attractive to watch.