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5 Plot Point Breakdown: Argo (2012)

By Archie Arenas · December 26, 2014

Screenplay Genre: Biography / Drama / History

Movie Time: 120 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

Tony Mendez is on the phone with his son, Ian, who is watching “Battle for Planet of the Apes.” As the two chat about his son’s day:

Tony listens, staring at the TV. A desert landscape dotted with technological garbage. An ape played by Roddy MacDowell walks across the landscape. He’s staring at the television, but now really paying attention.

The apes walk into the ruins of what was once a great city. On Tony staring at the movie. Wheels turning in his head.

Cut to:

INT. CIA CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Mendez: They’re a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a Science-Fiction movie … (00:22:43)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

Mendez has the initial go ahead to set up a production company and build a cover around the movie.  He recruits Chambers, a make-up artist, and Siegel, a director, to help him with this. They now need to find a script that would be ideal to film in Iran. Sitting by the pool, Mendez finds a script and begins to read:

Mendez: (entering, reading) ‘Fade in on starship landing. An exotic, Middle Eastern vibe. Women gather, offering ecstatic libations to the sky gods.’ (looks up) ‘Argo. A science-fantasy adventure.’ (00:32:42)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

With the plan in place, it’s now up to Mendez to get to Iran and meet the six Houseguests. He and O’Donnell sit in the car:

O’Donnell: I’m required to remind you that if you’re detained, the agency will not claim you.

Mendez: Barely claim me as it is.

O’Donnell: You’re ‘In Case Of’s’ good?

Mendez: Just Christine.

They don’t need to look at one another. A shared understanding.

Mendez: I should have brought some books to read in prison.

O’Donnell: Nah. They’ll kill you long before prison.

Tony gets out of the car, pulls his bag from the back seat, and slams the door.

Heads into the airport. (00:45:02)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

After briefing the six Houseguests on their roles and taking them to the bazaar, Mendez is ready to take them home the following day. However, he gets a phone call:

O’Donnell: LISTEN TO ME. The thinking’s changed. Six Americans get

pulled out of a Canadian diplomat’s house and executed, it’s a world outrage. Six Americans get caught playing movie make-believe with the CIA at the airport and executed, it’s a national embarrassment. They are calling the operation.

Mendez: We’re responsible for these people.

O’Donnell: (genuinely sad) What we are is required to follow orders. I’m sorry. (01:17:09)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Khalkali, sitting at his desk, is given a diplomatic photograph of a man with glasses that was pieced together from the shredded papers. Looking at the photographs taken at the bazaar, he:

Looks at the black and white still of Mark Lijek, compares it to his diplomatic picture. MATCH. (01:29:00)

The Six have been identified!


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