Ben Affleck's drama about the rescue of six American diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis deserves credit for placing the events in accurate historical context. The movie leads with a narrated history of events leading to the crisis, including the 1953 U.S.-engineered coup that deposed Iran's prime minister Mossadegh (who dared to nationalize Iran's oil resources) and the installation of the tyrannical puppet Shah. The film's drably colored, documentary-like texture is perfect for the subject and time period; Affleck and company took pains to make everything look authentic, from the aviator eyeglasses, shaggy hairstyles and '70s wardrobe to casting actors who closely resemble the real-life players. Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA "extraction specialist" tasked with getting the diplomats — hiding riskily at the Canadian Ambassador's home — out of Iran.. He cleverly invents a cover story that has the Americans playing members of a Canadian film crew making a sci-fi movie in Iran. Mendez arranges an actual film, with a script, a cast and the knowing help of a special-effects man and a veteran producer (John Goodman and Alan Arkin in amusing roles). Though the outcome is known, Chris Terreo's very linear narrative creates almost unbearable suspense as the Americans navigate a dangerously militant Tehran.
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