The captivating, expertly machined political thriller “Argo” -- available Tuesday on home video -- is serious and substantive, an ingeniously written and executed drama fashioned from a fascinating, little-known chapter of recent history. It also happens to be extremely funny, crafty and enormously entertaining. It’s two, maybe even three, films in one — all of which work as enjoyably on their own as they do in concert.
Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA expert in disguises and “exfiltration,” who at the height of the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 is called on to get six American diplomats out of Tehran, where they’ve been hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s residence.
His scheme is so crazy that it just might work: He’ll impersonate a movie producer who arrives in Iran to scout locations for his upcoming science-fiction flick. After some legerdemain with paperwork and spending a day or two chatting up the new revolutionary government’s cultural ministers, he’ll depart with the Americans in tow, each of them playing someone on the film’s crew.
Working from a well-crafted script by Chris Terrio, Affleck (who also directs) threads viewers through the dauntingly tricky geopolitics and tonal shifts with an utterly flawless sense of control.
The DVD (Warner, $29) includes the featurette “Rescued From Tehran: We Were There.” The Blu-ray ($36) adds commentary by Affleck, picture-in picture eyewitness accounts and more featurettes.
Colin Covert says: At a time when so many genre movies are mindless assaults on the eyes, ears and intelligence, Affleck’s superior craftsmanship in creating “Argo” is a gift to be treasured.
Also out Tuesday
Movies: “Adventure Coral Reef 3D: Under the Sea of Egypt,” “An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars,” “Anna Karenina,” “Atlas Shrugged, Part II,” “Fun Size,” “Sinister,” “Undefeated.”
TV: “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome,” “Game of Thrones” (Season 2), “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter,” “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” (Season 2), “Puppy Love,” “The Six Million Dollar Man” (Season 3), “Swamp People” (Season 3).
Blu-ray debuts: “Best in Show,” “Easter Parade,” “The Insider,” “The Monster Squad,” “Monsters, Inc.” (3-D), “The Nest,” “On the Waterfront,” “Prison,” “TerrorVision”/“The Video Dead,” “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924), “Top Gun” (3-D).