Set in the scary, chaotic aftermath of the Iranian revolution and the storming of the American embassy in Tehran, Argo sees six embassy workers take a gap and escape into the madness of the streets. Terrified and under very real threat of death, they seek sanctuary in the Canadian embassy like so many Anne Franks, as the Revolutionary Guard go house to house killing spies and counter-revolutionaries and anyone connected with the Shah. They are perilously exposed, and the CIA urgently needs a plan to get them out. But what? With the usual cover stories unavailable, they conjure up a fake identity for the team that so implausible, so ridiculous, it just might work. They’ll create a fake film crew for a fake film company making a fake sci-fi film – complete with ads in Variety – and they’ll smuggle the Americans out under the guise of a poorly-timed location scouting trip….
The result is really a fantastic, edge-of-the-seat thriller. Another appalling Ameri-centric re-writing of actual history of course (sorry Brits and Kiwis, and also you Canucks, the Yanks are the only game in town in this re-telling) but, what the hell – it’s really a fantastic cinematic experience from start to finish. Argo filmed in California, actually – even the tense scenes in the embassy compound as its invaded by the mob were filmed at the Veteran’s Administration north of Los Angeles. External scenes were shot in Istanbul. Emanuel Levy has good stuff as usual.
But here’s a strange thing; for a movie that relies on a location scout for its basic plot point, it’s kind of unforgivable that the film’s own location professionals are ignored in the closing credits. I think that’s even more uncool than slagging off the Brits….