By Jack Rico
Latinos are seriously EVERYWHERE. In Ben Affleck‘s and George Clooney‘s brand new movie ARGO, based on a true story, Affleck himself plays Latino CIA Agent, Antonio Mendez, a man with a problematic personal life, but very skilled at his professional one. The movie never acknowledges the Latino nationality in anyway besides the name and the real life picture of the man himself at the end of the credits.
The plot for Argo goes like this: “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played—information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.
Mendez, who was born in Eureka, Nevada in 1940, and is Latino from his father’s side, moved to Colorado as a teen and went on to study at the University of Colorado. Mendez barely speaks Spanish, but nevertheless was able to join the CIA in 1963 and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Middle East. Prior to joining the agency, Mendez was an artist (worked as an illustrator and tool designer for Martin Marietta) and now works on art full time. His work in the agency frequently dealt with forging foreign documents, creating disguises and handling other graphical work related to espionage.
In today’s instant information age, it seems inconceivable that the entire operation in ARGO remained top secret until it was declassified by President Clinton in 1997. Surprisingly, even after Tony Mendez recounted the events in his 2000 book, Master of Disguise, and, later, Bearman detailed them in Wired, most people remain largely unaware of a story that even Affleck admits “sounds utterly absurd. I understand that, because it seems completely unbelievable, but the fact that it happened is what makes it even more fascinating.”
‘Argo’ is a thrilling, nail-biting film that will keep you fully entertained with its captivating storyline and nearly perfect production. This political thriller is able to captivate the audience, by injecting dry humor, some mild action and focusing on the task at hand without getting too politically confusing. I think director Ben Affleck did a fantastic job giving the film the exact feel for the time it is set in, late70’s early 80’s; everything from the shots, to the outfits, cars, colors and even music, blend in masterfully to deliver what I would call one of the best dramas of the year.
This movie has the ability to literally keep you at the edge of your seat, providing some of the most intense, nail-biting scenes I’ve ever experienced in a movie theater. Scriptwriter Chris Terrio gave such a solid compact story that Affleck was able to create a class A film, with some help from producer Grant Heslov and George Clooney. You truly feel like a part of the film, so much so that at points you want to elbow some of the characters for their actions. The film gives an inside look into a story that was classified until 1997 and that many people might remember living it. Having been part of history some may already know the outcome of the film, either way it’s all about the top-secret intense journey it takes us on.