Review of Beckett: John David Washington attempts to save the film, but it's a complete failure

Beckett begins as an intimate film but quickly transforms into a genre movie within fifteen minutes. Beckett clings to an international conspiracy with an American at its centre.

The middle is Fernando Cito Filomarino’s Beckett. In the film’s middle, you will hear Beckett (John David Washington) apologizing to April (Alicia Vikander) during an early morning cuddle. They had fought the previous night, which suggests they have been together for some time. We are dropped right in the middle of two lovers vacationing in Northern Greece by Cito Filomarino.

After The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and this film, it’s the second in two weeks where a Hollywood movie centres its action on the crisis in Greece. Beckett isn’t able to immediately give you the details, unlike Ryan Reynold’s starrer. The Athens political turmoil slowly seeps into the idyllic mountain vacation of the American couple. Beckett, April and a news channel are seated in a cafe whispering sweet things to each other. The background shows Athens’ main square being prepared for a protest rally. April tells Beckett they were supposed to be in a hotel overlooking Athens’ main square when they made their way up the mountains.

It can be a very strange experience to watch Beckett in person, especially if you’re completely blind. It’s a couple of dramas with Hollywood stars who are determined to show that they are ‘actors’. There’s than a car accident. The viewer can sense a film about survivor guilt or a man grieving. The film takes a sharp turn and turns in a completely different direction when the viewer lets it breathe. Beckett is now a pure man on the run’ genre film.

Although it’s unexpected, the film is still entertaining. The film switches from a story about a couple in America to one about a man trying to escape from his local cops (from the scene where his car was crashed) and find his way to the American Embassy. As Beckett watches his back, the pace picks up, and Beckett’s paranoia takes over. Beckett walks miles and crosses streams with a broken left hand. He is easy to spot because he is a black man wearing a bright blue plaster in an otherwise white country. Washington isn’t the all-man type.

It’s easy to recall Washington’s role last year in Tenet when he participated in similar combat sequences.

He runs and runs… high up on the hill, jumping off ledges, trying desperately to survive. The stunt work is flawless, making him look like the American tourist he was at the beginning of the movie. Although it isn’t as perfect as The Matrix, it isn’t messy like an everyday man. Washington’s character can fight cops, intelligence assets and even spies and makes it through every one of them. He survives two car crashes. He might be called Ethan Hunt if he ran with more purpose.

Washington’s performance is also quite different from his previous performances in Tenet or Malcolm & Marie. Washington grunts, try and gives his best. Yet, Washington’s character is never fully realized. We only see John David Washington trying. It’s really hard.

Beckett goes completely off the rails in the third act. After starting as an intimate film, it becomes a genre film in the first fifteen minutes. It looks more like a fan-made Homeland episode about an international conspiracy with an American at its centre. It is not a dumb Tony Scott actioner, and it does not have enough weight to comment on the (possibly anti-American) climax.

Beckett evokes another last year misfire, Oliver Assayas Wasp Network (also available on Netflix). Hillbilly Elegy, with its cast of good-looking actors and prestige directors, would have been liked and won an Oscar. John David Washington will soon learn the hard way.


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