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Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions

When it comes to stories about manhunts, the focus is usually on a central character who is either fleeing something or being accused of a crime they did not commit. Remember the film North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock? In his sophomore picture, Ferdinando Cito Filomarino (Call Me by Your Name), Luca Guadagnino’s (Call Me by Your Name) protégée and regular collaborator Ferdinando Cito Filomarino spins the wheels around Beckett, played by John David Washington.

Beckett is on vacation in Greece with his adoring girlfriend April, completely ignorant of how his life will turn out as a result of an accident (Alicia Vikander). The couple had recently had a huge dispute, and the video begins the next morning when they both wake up. They spend the day wandering around historical and enjoyable sites, just like any other American visitor.

Filomarino, the director, ensures that we are gradually immersed in the life of the titular character. The first scenes are meant to establish Beckett as a regular, everyday man. Unlike his partner, who understands a little Greek, he will be at a loss while attempting to converse with residents. To make matters worse, he is clumsy; he forgets critical tasks that must be completed.

To put it succinctly, he isn’t your normal heroic guy in a film like this. His grounded demeanor is not ideal for someone who wakes up after a catastrophic vehicle accident, only to flee state officials who are hell-bent on killing him. The situation necessitates that he truly wake up. The not-so-ideal, regular guy must fight for his right to life in any way he can.

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Beckett is not given enough time in the film to comprehend what is going on. When he returns to the scene of his accident, he is confronted by two police officers who open fire on him. He is forced to fend for himself before he can even discover out what’s wrong. The rest of the story follows him as he tries to get away from the isolated highlands and to the city where the US embassy is located.

In his small adventure down the road, he meets a bunch of Samaritans while attempting to avoid the clutches of the bad cops who seem to follow him everywhere. Vicky Krieps, the breakout star of Phantom Thread, will also appear as a guest star. She plays Lena, a young political activist who is looking for the missing relative of a leftist leader who is attempting to reform the nation’s center by overthrowing the fascist regime. The narrative intensifies when Beckett understands that this ostensible quest and his determination to survive are motivated by deeper fears.

In terms of the film itself, Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and co-writer Kevin A. Rice instill enough gravitas in their central character. As previously said, he is an everyday man who appears to be in the wrong movie. He is not an ex-marine, ex-security guard, or even someone who goes to the gym on occasion. In reality, he is someone who has become so relaxed in life that he no longer has any objectives. When the manhunt begins, it is impossible for anyone to believe that a character like him would go to such lengths to fight for his life.

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However, when you look at him as an ordinary man, you realize that when circumstances like Beckett’s occur, one can’t help but try their hardest to survive. Rice and Filomarino’s writing ensures that he is not portrayed as a superhuman who suddenly learns the heroic end of his existence. He is someone who gets fatigued, is in a lot of pain, and mourns for the catastrophe that has happened to him.

The picture only falters when it uses an easy tactic with the screenplay to avoid disrupting the plot’s organic flow. The film’s exploration of politics is similarly weak and superficial, leading the audience astray. When Beckett is forced to make politically motivated decisions near the end, especially when he must choose between taking the more human approach and saving his own ass, the unraveling of it all doesn’t always make sense.

Furthermore, John David Washington, who thankfully underplays his role here, isn’t all that wonderful as Beckett. He does a good job of making the audience believe in his very grounded image, but when it comes to being in vulnerable character moments, he falls short. The supporting cast, which includes Vicky Krieps, Alicia Vikander, and Boyd Holbrook, is assigned one-dimensional characters who don’t contribute much to the plot. While these excellent actors give it their all, the lack of character motifs attributed to each persona makes them unmemorable.

Having said that, the political conspiracy unfolding in Greece provides a plausible framework. Because the country has previously experienced political and economic disintegration, the atmosphere required for a manhunt like this works flawlessly. I also appreciated how the film does not have subtitles for anything that is said in Greek. This step puts us squarely in Beckett’s shoes, and the absence of common ground when it comes to communication adds to the strain. Another highlight of the picture is Ryuichi Sakamoto’s score, which does not add to the suspense. Instead, it meticulously accompanies the film’s turbulence and leads you to a greater understanding of the proceedings.

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Overall, Beckett serves as a homage to classic manhunt thrillers. Working within the framework of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, the film is able to upend some fundamental genre clichés while being an entertaining entertainer that delivers on its promises.

Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions
Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions
Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions
Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions
Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions
Beckett Review: Is a Grounded Political Thriller That Occasionally Upends Genre Conventions

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