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Engrossing thriller, based on real events, and set against the backdrop of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81. Tasked by his boss (Bryan Cranston) with rescuing the handful of U.S. embassy employees who managed to escape capture when that facility was overrun by armed militants, a CIA agent (Ben Affleck) hatches a seemingly far-fetched scheme: He'll smuggle them out of Tehran - where they've been hiding in the Canadian embassy - disguised as a Canadian film crew scouting locations. To do so convincingly, he enlists the aid of a Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin) and makeup artist (John Goodman), and together they drum up publicity for the imaginary film project of the title. Affleck, who also directed, masterfully alternates between life-or-death drama and high-stakes humor. Though both aspects of the story too frequently give rise to coarse dialogue, the canny patriotism and emotional impact of the picture - as scripted by Chris Terrio - make for a rousing experience.

Watch out for: Potentially disturbing scenes and images, an abortion reference, a half-dozen uses of profanity, many rough and crude terms.

Rated: The Catholic News Service classification is A-III - adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R - restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970