Much though I have fondly watched Ben Affleck’s progress with affectionate attention since the entirely charming Good Will Hunting, Argo is not yet a definitive post-graduate work for the admittedly versatile Affleck.
Who can forget his other great collaboration with his distant relative, friend, and sometime collaborator Matt Damon, Dogma, or even the oddly stylish stinkers Armageddon and Reindeer Games?
There is courage in his decision to acknowledge direct American complicity in creating a murderously brutal regime in Iran that created the very circumstances leading to the heroic exploits of an admitted patriot and hero, Tony Mendez. The remainder of the film, however, is sustained as an Oscar winner only by a recalcitrant kind of American hubris about locating anything at all noble in the wreckage of US Middle East foreign policy since the 1950s. Dare one say the entire post-war American Third World foreign policy?
To really understand the worthiness of Mendez’s madcap plot to rescue six Americans from the terror of the Iranian revolution in 1980, it is rewarding to pay much closer attention to the events that led to the revolution and the perilous positions Americans found themselves in during those now distant days in 1979 and 1980.