The plot of "Argo" -- the CIA fakes filming a science-fiction movie to get Americans out of Iran in 1979 -- sounds like a rejected plot line for "Mission: Impossible." If the new film weren't based on a real story, the audacity and absurdity of what transpires would be almost too ridiculous even in a fictional story.
In 1979, while the world watched as Iranians held 52 Americans captive, another story was unfolding behind the scenes. Six Americans escaped and found secret sanctuary in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing their presence would eventually be discovered, the CIA faces a short window of time to get the group to safety. The big question is how to accomplish what seems like the impossible.
After multiple rescue scenarios are suggested and rejected, agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with the outlandish plan to create the illusion that he's part of a group looking to shoot a feature film in Iran. He would go in alone, but would leave Iran with the six under the guise of them being Canadian members of the film crew.
The only way this plot had a chance of working was if the CIA actually started the process of making the film, from setting up a production office in Hollywood to buying the options to a real sci-fi script.
"Argo" is a lot like "Apollo 13" in that the outcome of the real story is public record. Despite that knowledge, Affleck manages to create unrelenting tension and suspense that turns what could have been a silly spy story into an edge-of-your seat thriller with room left over from some top notch character studies.