By Terri Lee Sylvester

HOLLYWOOD (WWJ) – “A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.” That’s how the team behind “Argo” describe this incredible new film, directed by Academy Award winner Ben Affleck, who also stars in Argo as the CIA’s top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez.

I would have to agree with that description — even though at times, as the saying goes — “truth is stranger than fiction.” The “truth” in this case is the actual life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans trapped inside the Canadian Ambassador’s residence in Iran. The events that unfold in Argo took place in 1979 during the height of the Iranian revolution.

Argo is actually the name of a fictional movie that Hollywood had managed to convince Iranian authorities was the real thing. Mendez came up with the idea with the help of his friend, John Chambers (portrayed by John Goodman), a renowned Hollywood makeup artist. The two approach film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), who helps craft a plan to make their fictional movie look legit.

When the whole movie idea was originally presented to the CIA’s top brass, not surprisingly, it raised eyebrows. Among those who Mendez needed to get approval from was his boss, Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), the assistant deputy director of the CIA. After some hesitation at first, Mendez’s idea gets the green light, with O’Donnell going to bat for him. At one point in the decision-making process, O’Donnell is asked:

“You don’t have a better bad idea than this?”
To which O’Donnell responds:
“This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far.”

And with tensions between the U.S. and Iran boiling over, it was also an extremely dangerous idea. But as it turns out, it was an excellent idea because the mission was accomplished and all six Americans returned home safely.

My recommendation: if you see one movie this weekend, make this the one to see. Ben Affleck is absolutely terrific in his roles as both director and star; he’s so good, in fact, as Tony Mendez that you shouldn’t be surprised if he earns an Academy Award nomination as a result of his performance.

Make Argo part of your weekend plans, and I’ll see you at the movies!

Argo is rated R.

Click here to be connected to the official website and to see the trailer.

Follow Terri on Twitter @TerriJLee


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