If you were putting together a scam requiring the key ingredients of bare-faced duplicity, treachery, double-dealing, lying and deception where better place to head for than...Tinseltown.
CIA spook Tony Mendez (Affleck) has got the gig of extracting six American government officials from the Canadian ambassador's residence in Tehran. Trouble is it's just after the Iranian embassy siege when the Ayatollah's Revolutionary Guard is stringing up anyone with a tenuous link to Uncle Sam from construction cranes.
The usual means of false cover - teachers, agicultural researchers - are no longer an option so Mendez - while watching Battle For The Planet of the Apes on TV - hits on the idea of smuggling the six out as film-makers working on a sci-fi saga.
However, to lend the fictitious movie the necessary authenticity he has to head to Hollywood and put the production of 'Argo' into gear... with the help of makeup artist John Chambers (Goodman) and old school film producer Lester Siegel (Arkin).
As Chambers says to Mendez: "So you want to come to Hollywood and act like a big shot without actually doing anything? You'll fit right in."
With the movie in production, the really tricky stuff starts when Mendez heads to Tehran where he tells the uncomprehending six about the dubious strategy, described in Washington as "the best bad plan we have."
The odds appear stacked against the six with the Revolutionary Guard stepping up security at the airport and - more chillingly - recruiting young kids to sift through shredded classified documents at a warehouse, making it only a matter of time before the escapees are identified.
It's flag-waving stuff but executed with such panache that you overlook the unlikelihood of the overheated denouement and just sit back an enjoy a drum-tight thriller demonstrating that Affleck is one of the most accomplished directors working in Hollywood today.