Rated 4.0

In 1980, in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, a CIA agent organized an undercover caper that was desperate, dazzling and very improbable. In the hands of Ben Affleck and company, that little farrago becomes a riveting, briskly entertaining thriller. There is no shortage of peril and suspense in the basic incident—agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) is attempting to spirit six Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy out of Iran. And the tension is only heightened by the outlandishness of Mendez’s scheme—he and the six escapees will exit Iran disguised as a Canadian film crew. That scheme adds a second, curiously complementary element to the story—Mendez must set up an actual production company as a supporting cover story for the film-crew disguise. The cover-story movie becomes a sci-fi epic called Argo which might be filmed in Iranian locations. The movie angle adds a rich level of ironic comedy to Affleck’s own production, which thereby also becomes a dark, barbed comedy-drama about the business of making movies. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.