Directed By: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman

Argo couldn't have come to theaters in a more timely fashion.  Just several weeks after the attack in Benghazi that left the US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens to Libya and three other Americans dead, we revisit a similar situation, the Iran Hostage Crisis during which the lives of 52 embassy employees were put in grave danger for a total of 444 days.  While the film was put into production long before these terrible events actually took place, actor-director Ben Affleck certainly has some impeccable timing.  The good thing about Argo is that it's just what we need, an ultimately uplifting story about the Canadian Caper in which six American embassy employees escaped the chaos as the other 52 employees were taken hostage.

When US President Jimmy Carter gives asylum to the recently deposed Iranian monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi for medical treatment, it's a pretty unpopular decision in Iran, especially given the ongoing Iranian Revolution.  Outraged at this situation, Iranian militants take over the American embassy in Tehran and take 52 Americans hostage.  Six employees escape the embassy and have taken refuge at the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor's (Victor Garber) home.

When the United States learns of the six who escaped, the State Department begins concocting plans to rescue them.  They're all bad ideas.  CIA employee Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston) is working alongside the State Department to save those six Americans.  He decides to consult with expert Tony Mendez (Affleck) on the best approach.  Thanks to Planet of the Apes, Mendez is inspired to get the six escapees out by making a fake movie.  With the help of acclaimed make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and Hollywood big shot Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), Mendez organizes the best worst rescue plan he could put together in 72 hours.  Now, he has to go to Iran to make this work.  This fake movie is a Middle Eastern sci-fi extravaganza known as Argo.

Ben Affleck has crafted an excellent period piece on some heavy topics that manages not to be too heavy.  The Iran Hostage Crisis was certainly no rosy affair.  While Argo is a film with plenty of tragedy and lots of thrills, what stands out about this flick is that there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments as well.  I expected to walk out of this flick satisfied but somber.  Instead, I turned out to be pretty content, and this is because Affleck doesn't forget that he's an entertainer.  He manages to both educate and entertain viewers consistently throughout Argo.  This potent combination of historical accuracy and witty humor is what makes the film so great.

The cast delivers solid performances, and each actor serves his purpose well.  Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston are the conscience of Argo.  As Tony Mendez and Jack O'Donnell, they give us the characters that do the right thing, no matter what anyone else says.  Similarly, Alan Arkin and John Goodman are the funny men in this film.  As Lester Siegel and John Chambers, these two keep the laughs coming and coin some of the movie's key phrases.  The actors portraying the six Americans who fled the embassy also deliver solid performances and bring the emotional scars of their traumatic circumstances to the forefront every time they're on screen.

I know Ben Affleck is not everyone's favorite actor, but he is one damn good director.  Argo is a gripping thriller that will captivate you from start to finish, and Affleck has put together something really special here.  Because he’s associated with the flick though, there will inevitably be plenty of naysayers.  To all those haters out there, Affleck can boldly say "Argo F*ck Yourself".  Argo gets a strong 0.03% rating.  Have a few wine coolers with this one.