Saturday 18 September 2021

Movie Review: Beckett (2021)

A chase thriller, Beckett features plenty of narrow escapes but meager plotting. 

Beckett (John David Washington) and his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander) are vacationing in Greece. With a large left-wing political demonstration planned in Athens, they depart on a road trip to the peace and quiet of the countryside. At the end of a long day Beckett dozes off behind the wheel, and a bad crash ends with their car smashing into a secluded house. 

Beckett is hurt and hospitalized, but when he admits to spotting a young red-headed kid at the house, he finds himself a target of corrupt police officers and is forced to go on the run. Political activists Lena (Vicky Krieps) and Eleni (Maria Votti) help transport him to Athens, where he meets US embassy official Tynan (Boyd Holbrook). But with political tensions running high in the streets, Beckett's troubles are far from over.

While the Greek countryside provides rustic locations and Italian director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino knows his way around breathless action scenes, Beckett suffers from too much running around and not enough explanations. By the time Beckett survives the umpteenth attempt on his life and his broken bones count creeps towards the double digits, the impact is lost. 

Ironically, the quiet first 20 minutes are strong, writer Kevin A. Rice investing in the relationship between Beckett and April. They become a couple worth knowing, and their rapport heightens the jarring outcome of the car crash. But from the moment a couple of Greek police officers start taking ill-aimed pot shots at Beckett, character definitions are parked, and an intense guilt-ridden John David Washington performance is wasted.

The conspiracy is expressed in sketch terms at best, and involves the kidnapped son of a faceless left-wing politician, the bad guys described as either political opponents or mobsters, depending on who is providing the explanation. The nefarious Americans are, of course, up to their elbows in meddling and misdeeds. Beckett dodges all-comers on his way to the middle of the mayhem, but all meaningful motives remain mysterious.

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