Argo (♦♦♦♦♦)

Tony Mendez, a CIA operative expert in extractions, has a seemingly bad idea: to stage a fake sci-fi movie set in Iran with the purpose of providing a cover story to free six Americans hiding in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador during Iran’s hostage crisis in 1979-1980.

Argo is a wow movie the like of which I hadn’t seen this year. It’s co-produced, and splendidly acted and directed by Ben Affleck. Out of the myriad of movie directors out there, no one does climatic, full of tension movies as Affleck does. He proved it when directed the devastatingly gritty The Town and Gone Baby Gone, but in my opinion he has outdone himself with Argo.

The movie delivers funny lines such as “If I’m going to make a fake movie it’s going to be a fake hit”, but it is the edge-of-your-seat tension enhanced by a climatic musical score that make the audience feel close to a “benign” heart attack if that’s even possible, at least I felt that way.

Ben Affleck’s performance is one for the ages: subdued emotions but bubbling lava under the surface as only he has been able to master. In another film, it would be considered a passive performance, but one can see reflected in his demeanor that he is as tense as a violin’s chords.

To top the atmosphere of doom that precedes triumph, are the scenes of angry Iranian mobs demanding the heads of any American who stand in their way, or the scenes showing hanged men from construction sites as proof of the fate dissenters may suffer.

Alan Arkin, Kyle Chandler, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman co-star.

Overall, Argo is a movie destined to become a classic, a film for generations of Americans to treasure as a testament of the power of courage and imagination. Not that it’s a seal of quality, but my eyes moistened when the Swiss Air plane took off and it dawned on the hostages that they were finally free.