In his third directorial effort, Ben Affleck makes by far his most ambitious film to date, a tonally complicated balance of nail-biting historical drama and breezy movie industry comedy. Capturing the specifics of time and place with exacting precision, Affleck builds the film to the specifications of broad appeal—rather than wrestle with any big philosophical questions—but his intentions are easily misunderstood. For example, the film’s stabs at patriotism and emotional uplift are halfhearted gestures designed to please an audience that might otherwise resist the film’s critique of American foreign policy. While some have accused Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio of demonizing the Iranian people, they actually go out of their way to make it clear that the outrage onscreen is justified. The result is a film that finds a surprisingly modern vision of what it means to be American in a world ravaged by the country’s covert intelligence operations. It’s the age-old dilemma of the American tourist who must pose as Canadian in order to escape the impact of his/her own corrupt government.
This Blu-ray accurately conveys the textures of Rodrigo Prieto’s unobtrusive cinematography and the film’s period-specific colour scheme. Extras include a commentary track by Affleck and Terrio, a Picture-in-Picture track—that offers an exploration of the film’s historical roots, played alongside the film itself—a 47-minute documentary from 2005 (Escape From Iran: The Hollywood Option), and three featurettes (Rescued from Tehran: We Were There, Absolute Authenticity, Escape From Iran: The Hollywood Option) totaling 34 minutes. With the exception of the 17-minute Rescued From Tehran, these are all Blu-ray exclusives.