Anti-American protesters stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took 52 staff hostage, but six colleagues hid with Canadian diplomats.
Affleck plays CIA agent Tony Mendez, who flies in, posing as a Canadian filmmaker scouting exotic locations for a movie to rival Star Wars. He helps the fugitives escape while they pose as members of his film crew.
To convince Iranian officials, he buys a real, but dreadful, film script, and creates a fake movie company with witty help from sci-fi make-up ace John Chambers (John Goodman) - creator of Mr Spock's Star Trek ears - and producer Lester Siegel (a scene-stealing Alan Arkin). The incredible story, plus a few invented scenes for tension, form a simple, well-made three-act tale.
Affleck's an ordinary actor, but shines as a director, finding an authentic feel by cleverly blending archive film with well researched, period sets, costumes, hairstyles and lookalike actors. He also adeptly layers in rising dramatic tension to create a gripping finale.
His end credits feature real US president Jimmy Carter recalling the mission. Yet it is Arkin's witty turn that lingers in the memory.
YP Rating: 4/5