‘Red Sea Diving Resort’ & ‘Argo’ Document The Two Most Unusual Rescue Missions Ever
Chris Evans is already starring in his first post-MCU film, the new Netflix thriller Red Sea Diving Resort. In the movie, Evans portrays a bearded secret agent who leads a covert operation to rescue Jewish refugees from Sudan using the cover of a fake hotel. So basically, Red Sea Diving Resort is the new Argo. In that Oscar-winning film from 2012, Ben Affleck portrays a bearded secret agent who leads a covert operation to rescue American hostages from Iran using the cover of a fake movie production. So how exactly are these two movies alike, and how do they differ?
For starters, both of the films are based on true stories. They both take place in the same time period of the late 1970s to early 1980s. And they both deal with the intelligence agency of one nation utilizing some form of elaborate ruse to rescue its citizens from a separate, hostile nation. They also, for what it's worth, both star bearded white men portraying characters whose ethnicities differ from their own. In Red Sea Diving Resort, Evans, who was raised Catholic, plays an apparently Jewish spy named Ari Levinson. In Argo, Ben Affleck received some criticism for being cast as CIA officer Tony Mendez, whose father was Mexican — though it's worth noting that Mendez did not identify as Hispanic and had no problem with Affleck's casting, according to NBC Latino. Now, those similarities aside, the two films actually tell pretty different stories.
Red Sea Diving Resort is based on the actual rescue of Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan in the early 1980s, which is also documented in the book Mossad Exodus by Gad Shimron, a former Mossad agent who took part in the rescue. In the late '70s, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin tasked his Mossad spy agency with smuggling thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees who had fled their homeland and were hiding out in Sudan to Israel, which would become their new home. To do this, the Mossad — posing as Swiss investors — purchased an abandoned diving resort on the Sudanese coast and reopened it. Diving in the Red Sea was a hot tourist attraction, so the resort was granted protection by Sudan's Tourism Ministry. In other words, they wouldn't be bothered, and were able to use the guise of the resort's Red Sea tours to ferry refugees across the sea to Israel.
Argo is based on the "Canadian Caper," and the film used Mendez's book The Master of Disguise, as well as a Wired article by Joshuah Bearman, as its main sources. When Iranian terrorists stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took the staff hostage, a handful were able to escape. They hid out with Iran's Canadian ambassador, and Mendez hatched an unusual plan to extradite them to America. He and the escaped hostages would pose as Canadian filmmakers who were scouting locations for a science-fiction film called Argo, and were zeroing in on Iran as an ideal spot for filming. The plan worked, and the U.S. diplomats were successfully extradited from Iran.
Both Red Sea Diving Resort and Argo tell extraordinary true tales of covert rescue missions that relied on highly unusual schemes to achieve their goals — and both were successful. As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction, and apparently that's especially true when it comes to international rescue missions.