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PICT 8045 Intelligence Theory and Practice: Film Analysis of Argo Assessment Answer

PICT 8045: Intelligence Theory and Practice 

Intelligence Project

As we have discussed so far this semester, intelligence work is fraught with difficulty. We have examined many of the ways in which this work is difficult in general terms, as well as the difficulty between the intelligence community and the policy world. For this project, you will apply this knowledge to a specific case through a film analysis. Please choose one of the following films:

Top Tier

Zero Dark Thirty The Imitation Game

The Falcon and the Snowman



The Man Who Never Was The Catcher Was A Spy Charlie Wilson’s War




13 Days

The Gathering Storm

If you wish, you can propose a different movie to analyze—just run it past me first, along with the merits for doing so.

Then, write a paper of approximately 2000 words (+/- 10%). In the paper, you should identify at least five of the key intelligence activities depicted in the film. Why are they important? How do you know? One of the learning objectives in the course is to make connections between what we have done in class and what is happening in the “real” world. How is the film in conversation with our readings and class discussions? Finally, how does the film depict the intelligence mission? To the extent possible, you should also discuss some of the ways in which the movie differs from real events and what we can learn from these differences. Intelligence-wise, what are some lessons we can learn? The paper should have one-inch margins, using a normal font and font size, such as Times New Roman 12, with appropriate citations.

Just as with the case study project, you may opt to work in pairs/trios or as individuals. If you work as part of a group, the group can hand in just one project. For this project, though, it is probably simplest to work alone due to social distancing guidelines.

NOTE: this may be a different kind of project than the one you were expecting. That’s because this is a different kind of semester than we were expecting, needless to say. I’ve tried to come up with a project that requires little outside research, or at least requires research that is more easily done from home. Also, please know that you aren’t expected to spend money for this project.

Most of the movies I’ve listed are available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, or Sling TV for free with a subscription, which you may already have; they’re all available through some of these platforms and others like iTunes, YouTube, and more for less than $5 USD (though I realize what’s available on different platforms varies, and what I can see here in the US may not be what you have available in Australia). But if getting to see one of these movies is a hardship for you in any way, please let me know and we will work it out.




Argo is a movie that is based on Canadian Caper which took place in the span between 1970 and 1980, during the Iran hostage crisis. The movie which mainly dramatized on the scenario was presently going on at that political period in Iran. The film is based mainly on the foreign policy approach, which is very essential for every country. According to the foreign policy of the state, every citizen should get asylum in case of revolution or war happening in other countries. In these movies, Mendez helped those 6 staffs by creating a false movie for asylum in their own country i.e. U.S. While arranging the escapes for members of the US embassy of potential intelligence valued who is very much subjected to the antagonistic pursuit and political maltreatment.  Prior planning is always not possible in certain cases, surveys and intelligence procedures are very fundamental. The core argument of this movie is based on the intelligence activity done by a CIA exfiltration specialist agent. The main squabble is to prove the relevance of intelligence bureaus and their methods which have been implicated by the Government to do the rescue through strategized ideology.  The core argument of this thesis is being analyzed with appropriate argumentation. 


Intelligence activity can be considered as the act where information about the enemy is gathered using intelligence or an act where secret information is gathered or a situation is being spied on. Intelligence organizations handle the threat by gathering information (Secker and Alford, 2019)Argo is a political thriller film that is based on true events and the use of intelligence is splendid in the movie. The setting of the film was the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 – 1981. The first act of intelligence that should be discussed in the film Argo is when Tony Mendez who was a CIA specialist of the operations made up a plan to extract the Americans who were staying in the house of a Canadian ambassador (Secker and Alford, 2019). Tony Mendez was played by Ben Affleck. Tony Mendez was called in to think of a plan on how the six escapees can be extracted from Iran safely. One day while watching a film called “Battle of the Planet of Apes” Tony Mendez thought of an idea. He decided that he would extract the six escapees as actors in a Canadian science fiction film and he would also give the reason that the actors and Tony Mendez himself came to visit the exotic locations situated in Iran (Arjana, 2016). This act of intelligence was very important as the devised plan of making a movie will give them a valid reason for leaving the country and the people of Iran would not doubt them as well. The second act of intelligence in the film was when a fake production was being set up and also a fake studio called ‘Studio 6’. Tony Mendez also took a make-up artist who works for the CIA and also a fake producer to make the whole fake plan believable to the people of Iran (Arjana, 2016). The third act of intelligence that can be noticed in the film is when the fake passports and identities are made of the six escapees and also for the people coming with Tony Mendez. Along with the six new Canadian identities, the escapees also practice some physical attributes and practice some new information about fake identities so that no one doubts them. The next act of intelligence in the film is when the whole group along with the six escapees went to a bazaar in Iran hiding their identities (Shaw and Jenkins, 2017). Afterward, there was a mess that was created. But this step was very important because the story which was made by Mendez was made believable by the local people of Iran. The fifth intelligent act that was portrayed in the film is when the whole group was passing the security check in the airport. The whole group including the CIA agents and the six escapees passed the first two tiers of the airport security check but they were again doubted intensely in the third tier by the security. The group provided storyboards to the security and a fake piece of a newspaper where the publishing news of the movie is mentioned. The fake production also gives him a card to make it seem real (Shaw and Jenkins, 2017).

The intelligence activity depicted in the movie Argo is imperative (Fischer, 2020). It is imperative because this kind of hostile situation has been found in Iran years back and forth. The potential intelligence has been shown by rescuing those staff of the U.S. Embassy by a CIA agent tricky fake film making idea. The initial plan was accommodating also in executing. The readiness to move those agents from Iran to the US without doing them any harm explains the intelligence activity of Tony Mendez (Fischer, 2020).

The infiltration and exfiltration of people into and out of hostile areas are the most difficult intelligence activity which has been depicted in Ben Affleck`s movie. The mental attitude and the demeanor is a very important activity here along with the technical accuracy of tradecraft objects. The CIA's directorate operations or other ways (taking help from Hollywood friends, executing fake calls, crew members, appropriate time management to get the 6 persons out, etc.) are the main ingredients of intelligence activity and it's very pivotal. The main key here depicted is; timely readiness with the application of astuteness (Fischer, 2020). In arranging the whole situation of escaping six staff members of the U.S. Embassy by a CIA agent was not an easy task, there was eventually involvement of risks as well. But Tony did it successfully by application of intelligence, acumen, rational thoughts.

Ben Affleck’s Argo revolves around the U.S hostage crisis in Iran, in 1979. The movie is based on true events and goes on to share the story of how an Intelligence Agent under the disguise of an American Sci-Fi movie producer successfully rescues six American diplomats (Gambaccini et al., 2018). The movie begins giving its audience a context and moves on to depict the Iranian Revolution. When the embassy of Tehran is under attack the diplomats of the U.S are seen frantically destroying documents and some escape (Hezaveh, 2016). Six of the agents find shelter under the protection of the Canadians. The movie extensively shows the audience the functioning of the Intelligence agency, their drive to serve and protect. The audience is made to witness the way the agency comes up with a solution, how they use prior connections as well as how intelligence missions take place. The fact that the movie is based on true events lends it authenticity (Juwaini, 2017).

The case of the Iran Hostage situation was declassified by Bill Clinton in the 90s. The critically acclaimed movie has a lot of controversies that surround it. There are several issues that have been portrayed in an inaccurate manner. The Canadians role in extracting the six agents hardly gets addressed in the movie (Hunt et al., 2016). They were the sole reason that the Americans could survive under hiding. The agents in reality took shelter at the homes of the Canadian nationals. The Canadian former Ambassador, who was a part of sheltering the agents and protecting them, says that the movie diminishes their role as mere onlookers. Jiminy Carter, former US president reveals in 2013 that the majority of the plan, as well as the execution, were done by the Canadians unlike depicted in the movie where the CIA is given full credit (Boggs, 2017). According to the interviews that were taken later the agents accepted that there was a certain tone of hyperbole and events were fictionalized to keep the entertainment factor of the movie in mind. The survivor Mark Lijek shares that the entire cover plan of Argo seemed initially unnecessary because no one doubted them or they never came under such conditions (Boggs, 2017). He then continues to say that in retrospect it seemed like a perfect plan because it gave them the boost of confidence they needed to get through airport Securities without revealing their true identities. In the movies, it is also shown that the agents form an undercover plan to go to visit shooting sites. Lijek says that they were under strict orders to not go onto the streets in order to avoid detection as well as maintain security. He recalls that though they did not go out in the streets they had books, played scrabble as well as drank away their frustrations. Another major controversy shrouding the movie is about casting a white man- in this case, Ben Affleck, the director-actor in the role of a Mexican character, Tony Mendez (Bigio, 2016). The movie also misses out several important people such as the partner of Tony Mendez who was definitely of extreme importance and instrumental to the escape plan being executed.

In our thesis argument, we are trying to prove the relevance of intelligence agencies and their methods. In movies like Argo, we are shown the implications and steps taken by the US government in association with the Canadian government to rescue its embassy members through strategized ideas and disguise where these members are given fake Canadian passports to help them rescue. There are some action sequences and narratives in the movie shown and are represented to highlight the hero's ready-wit to celebrate the hero for his success (Gulam, 2019). He is a super exceptionally multitalented person who can war off only circumstantial momentary through his implicit and intricate techniques. these features are generally adapted by directed to project the movie so as to glorify the hero. This acclamation and critical devices are far from reality. In real life, there are many difficulties and staggering confidence and oft language techniques to ensure a particular intelligence miss. In Fair Game, the same hostage situation occurs in Saudi Arabia but Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are hyper-glorified. These approaches to the intelligence department are far from real. Sometimes Intelligence Agency activities of special spy and spy gadgets are also depicted with more sophistication but in reality, there are some codes and firewall system of different situations which cannot be penetration. The hostility situations are projected on high dialogue vocality and project lawlessness in ruthlessness manner but these are far from realities. The true situation of the interception of intelligence agency and its dynamics depends on the coherence and graveness of the situation. The course of the movies such as Argo, Fair Game articulates the theme based on little historical authenticity to prevent the negativity and other atrocities that come with intelligent decisions. Often the collateral damage is subdued and the protagonist is over-focused to moniker the hero more than the detailed historical fact keeping in mind the confidentiality of diplomacy rules (Spies, 2019).

The first thing that is learned from Argo is that there are an intergovernmental pact and strategies to deal with bringing home refugees who are stranded in socio-political conditions in some other countries, especially the role of Canada, New Zealand, Britain and CIA in the rescue (Fattal, 2019). The movie also depicts the Iranian Revolution of 1979 when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of the Pahlavi Dynasty was overthrown because of social injustice and his place by replaced Islam and leftist party president Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The revolution also consisted of a student movement and the Last Prince of Iran was exiled in January of 1979 who was supported by the US government and this led to the uprising and taking hostage of the entire US Embassy in Tehran. Like the movie depicted the negativity of the Iranian people towards the Americans was distastefully criticized as 6 of the rescued US embassy members were not criticized or scornfully taunted by the Iranians.  All the intelligence actions by the intergovernmental work are not depicted due to confidential information and pacts which cannot be revealed in the progress of the movie. For the sake of literature, it has quite essentially provided the details of Intelligence and their master plan of disguise to infiltrate a country to rescue their top embassy members. 


It can be concluded that Ben Affleck’s Argo revolves around the U.S hostage crisis in Iran, in 1979 which is based on true events. The intelligence activity shown is affluent and needs to be saluted. The movie clearly showed how the CIA functioned and protected the U.S. Embassy staff by executing a plan of a fake American Sci-Fi movie cast in Iran. The relevance of intelligence activity has been depicted by the ways and steps taken by the US Government in association with the Canadian Government. The movie also said that there are intergovernmental pact and strategies to deal with bringing home refugees who are stranded in socio-political conditions in other places. Although all the intelligence actions are not depicted in the movie the depiction of infiltration and exfiltration of people into and out of hostile areas are an integral part of Nation`s Foreign Policy practice with intelligence. 

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