Toward the end of Jimmy Carter's first and only term as the President of the United States, his presidential career (but quite strangely not his resume) was tainted by the events of the Iran Hostage Crisis, where the Iranians held plenty of prisoners captive for a total of 444 days. People look at this situation in two ways: the first is that they feel that Carter was at fault and did not step up to the bat. The second is that Carter really didn't know what was going on and that he had the misfortune of having to go through such an event. During this period of time, CIA officer Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck, who also directed the film), plotted an idea to allow some of the hostages to escape to freedom. His plan was to disguise them as film directors working on a science fiction picture. While it seemed like an odd concept, history shows that it paid off.
The film begins with some captivating history on Iran, using real footage as well as comic book style footage in order to leave a lasting image. We begin at a point where Iran has overthrown the rule of the Americans and the British, leading to a revolt that puts the U.S. embassy in the country in a dire situation. They have to shred and burn any important papers with hope that the Iranian radicals do not get their hands on them. Little do we know that as the film progresses, these people are quite intelligent and are willing to go the extra mile, making them a smarter group of people antagonizing the Americans. Much of the real life footage is just incredible raw and painfully honest, as we see American flag burning and Americans being blindfolded and swung about like wrongfully accused prisoners.
Tony Mendez is at a loss for what he should do, but when watching a television show of the science fiction/fantasy genre with his son, it inspires him to create something of his own that features to United States diplomats that escaped to the Canadian embassy dress up as the film crew and take part in a "fake film." He meets with agent John Chambers (played by John Goodman) and director Lester Siegel (played by Alan Arkin), and the two come up with a film that was on Siegel's discard pile that is a ripoff of Star Wars and is based in the Middle East (in order to create a favorable impression with the residents) called Argo, hence the name of the film. Chambers and Siegel provide a bit of dark comedy to the film as two guys, middle-aged and old, respectively, as they express themselves in a blunt disposition that expresses sarcasm toward life.
Mendez demands that the six escapees take on the lives of the film crew members and that they are able to remember every detail about themselves and become these people, so that making it through the country is much easier. Things don't seem easy, as the Iranians have went through the shreds to dig out information, leading to a chase that goes all the way to the airport, as the "film crew" and Tony Mendez board onto Swiss Air.
While I won't give away the exact details, I will mention that what Jimmy Carter had to say about taking credit for succeeding at bringing those held hostage home was ludicrous. The hostages were released the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated president, because they knew that Reagan was not going to put up with such an event. It was only going to become bloodier if Reagan had to get involved, so to avoid such confrontation, those held captive were released after 444 days. Carter has gone on to become an outspoken former president, a Nobel Prize winner for his humanitarianism, and the only president to publish a novel (titled The Hornet's Nest).
The best part about this film was the raw, true emotion of the historical events, from the true footage of riots to the news footage from anchors such as Walter Cronkite to addresses from political figures such as the president himself. The rest of the film was just excellent as well, making you feel like you were a part of the era. I felt the frustration, the aggravation, and the lost feelings like it was a current event. It was 1980, but I felt as if I was warped back thirty-two years to such an era. Ben Affleck did an excellent job in dual roles as an director AND actor, which is difficult to accomplish, but it seems like it can be done. I could definitely see how this was the film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture during the most recent ceremony. This is definitely something that should be in the theaters as oppose to the box office attracting popcorn films we see instead, many of which are repetitive to the trends. This is something much different and stands out in its own true way.