In 1979, America acts to protect the deposed Shah of Iran and in an angry reaction a crowd of Iranians storm the American Embassy in Teheran. Six US Consular officials manage to escape and take shelter in the Canadian Embassy. Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck), a highly experienced CIA operative in “extraction” situations like this, must devise a plan to get the six people out of Iran safely and quietly. Most normal practices won’t work in the highly volatile Teheran, but he must do something. He eventually comes up with an idea that is ambitious, in fact some might say far-fetched, but it may just work – and it in involves Hollywood – make-up artist John Chambers (by John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (by Alan Arkin). Like a real life movie script, this is the true story of how his plan plays out, with high reliance on deception, covert activities, false identities, careful split-second timing, courage and luck.
This film is great. Much of the content of the actual story was classified by US Government until 1997, but now the facts of the situation are known, no doubt with some subtle embellishments for effect, but nothing that would detract from the drama faced by these six people and everyone involved at the time. The characters are not deeply explored, not even Tony Mendez, but Ben Affleck continues to create wonderful drama, effective situations and his talent to build suspense is marvellous. We get to know the Hollywood participants Chambers – by John Goodman – and Siegel – by Alan Arkin – the best, perhaps because what happened in Teheran stays with the people involved. Alan Arkin was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in this supporting role. BAFTA and the US Academy surprised and delighted many when Ben Affleck was named winner of the 2013 Academy Award (Oscar) for Motion Picture of the Year, along with Oscars for Best Film Editing and Screenplay. At the time, Tony Mendez was decorated by the US Government for his work and he has written about his experiences in a memoir “Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA” published in 2000. This is a well made and entertaining thriller.
Made in 2012. Directed by Ben Affleck