Argo 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. (Pamela Zoslov)
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