Argo – Movie Review
There was a raid on the US Embassy in Iran. Six Americans, government employees, escaped and were given refuge by the Canadian ambassador in his home. Argo is the story of the daring and true rescue of those six Americans.
Tony Mendez, a specialist in field extractions for situations such as these, hatched a crazy plan. He would go into Iran as a Hollywood movie producer with his team (of six…enter the American refugees) to scout out Iran as a possible location for a sci-fi type movie. The movie, Argo, was just a cover of course, but if it was to be a successful cover, it had to have legitimacy to it—which meant a director, media hype, a script, an office and phone line, business cards, etc.
The mission was dangerous, to say the least. Mendez knew full well that he was risking his life to go in and rescue his fellow Americans. His mission was only further complicated by the American refugees themselves. They knew they were in danger, but it also seemed that the danger they knew was better than the danger they didn’t.
One of the Americans in particular was unwilling to trust Mendez and his plan. He wanted to stay in hiding, because he had a false sense of security about his hiding place. He had no idea how much the Iranians already knew—that six Americans had escaped, that they were piecing together shredded photos of them, that the Canadian ambassador’s house cleaner knew who they were, etc. He had no idea of the depth of the danger he was in, nor did he know how urgent it was that he escape. Mendez was therefore not only responsible for hatching the plan to get them out of Iran, and for its smooth execution, but he was also responsible for convincing the Americans of the reality and the danger of their situation so that they would get on board.
I know the movie was rated R, (mostly because Ben Affleck appears to have a regrettable affinity for the f-bomb), but it was a fantastic movie, despite the language. After the movie a stranger hung around wanting to talk about it – it was an event she lived through and vividly remembered. It’s a fascinating piece of history, and a reality check about the fear and the control so many people around the world live with on a daily basis. It’s a poignant reminder of the incredible risks and sacrifices so many people make for our freedoms that we never even know about (note that this was considered classified information until recently, so Americans never really knew the true story at the time).
Of all the things this movie made me think about though, the thing that has stayed with me the most is the thought of how Tony Mendez modeled the Christian life. Let me explain. Mendez worked for the CIA, which, I realize would rarely if ever make anyone’s list of Christian business models. Humor me though, and let’s compare (dare I go so far as to say equate?) the CIA to Christianity. Think of the storyline now – Tony is a Christian, he works for the Lord. He realizes that there are fellow humans in captivity, in enemy territory, and if someone doesn’t get them out of there, they will surely die.
Mendez, because he’s a Christian and it’s his job to help rescue others and bring them to freedom, works on a plan. It’s a covert plan. He has to have a cover, a job, if you will, that will allow him to naturally interact with those in captivity so that he can bring them to freedom. It’s not his real or his main job, but it’s just as important because this secondary job allows him to do his primary job—setting captives free.
Mendez comes up with a cover occupation that will give him the access to the captives and the freedom to interact with them that he needs. Knowing that it may cost him his life, he goes into the enemy territory in his new role. He meets with the captives, and while some are overjoyed at the prospect of escape, others need some convincing. They need convincing because they don’t really think captivity is all that bad. They need convincing because they don’t think the danger is all that imminent or severe. They need convincing because they don’t think this is really the only way. And they need convincing because they are scared and they don’t know who to trust. It’s at this point that Mendez really has to risk it all. To gain their trust, Mendez has to trust them first. He has to be vulnerable with them, risking dangerous exposure of his personal life and loved ones.
The captives agree to trust Mendez and put their faith in Christianity (or in this case, the CIA), but the story doesn’t stop there. They are still in enemy territory and in captivity. They still have a way to go to truly live in a place of freedom. Mendez is now responsible to teach them how to get to freedom. He has to teach them about their new identities. If they don’t embrace their new identity, if they forget and revert to their old identities, the enemy will keep them in captivity. He teaches them the skills they need for survival, he teaches them how to be like him, a Christian (or, again, a CIA operative). Their new identities are the key to their escape, and their freedom.
For most of us, at least most of us in America, we don’t have to risk our lives to help bring freedom to the captives. We may have to risk our coolness, or some level of comfort…in fact, I would be willing to say God will nearly always ask us to risk something for Him. He does, after all, tell us things like, “pick up your cross” and “deny yourself” and “die to self” and “count the costs” as we follow Him. For many Christians around the world, however, those things have a much more personal, poignant and even painful implication. There are many Christians who know that if they go to or stay in a particular location as a Christian, they will face persecution and possibly death.
Mendez knew the consequences if he was caught, and he did it anyway. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Christians around the world are taking that literally and laying down their lives for their lost and captive fellow man, to bring them the freedom of Jesus Christ. How about you? I challenge you, follow the example of Tony Mendez, but do it in Jesus’ name, bringing people to true freedom in Christ, which is so much greater than simply offering political and physical freedom here on earth.
Questions for Discussion:
- When you think about job, do you see it as your real job or your cover job? What about your role as a Christian, is that your primary or secondary role (or even somewhere further down the list)?
- What have you ever sacrificed or risked for the sake of bringing God’s freedom to the captives?
- What would you be willing to risk to bring someone to freedom in Christ?
- How aware are you of the captivity that non-Christians around you are actually in? How aware are you of the danger non-Christians face if they don’t find freedom in Christ? How might it change your relationships and your lifestyle if you had a heightened sense of their captivity and the urgency of their situation?
- Do you feel that youare the one who realizes the true danger and urgency that non-Christians are in, but they themselves are content? What seems to be their reluctance in trusting Christ?
- They need convincing because they don’t really think captivity is all that bad.
- They need convincing because they don’t think the danger is all that imminent or severe.
- They need convincing because they are scared and they don’t know who to trust…you and God included.
- How many people do you know that fall back into captivity because they don’t understand their new identity in Christ? Has this happened to you? How can your identity in Christ help you find freedom? What is your identity in Christ?
- How aware are you of the persecution Christians around the world are facing?
If you would like to learn more about the persecuted church, I urge you to check out Voice of the Martyrs at www.persecution.com . Look at the world map and learn about areas which are hostile to Christians. Read stories of Christians who face persecution to bring the message of Jesus to the lost and captive. Pray for them. Learn about other ways to get involved in supporting our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. While you are there, request a copy of Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ. It is worth reading.
By Stacey Tuttle
Click here to read quotes from the movie.
 John 15:13