Director: Ferdinando Cito Filomarino
Written by: Kevin A. Rice
Starring: John David Washington, Boyd Holbrook, Vicky Krieps and Alicia Vikander
Every week there is at least one new Netflix film, either one of their own productions or from the endless number of films they’ve bought the rights to. This week’s offering is Beckett, a standard thriller that does a lot of things right, but not much more.
Beckett, played by John David Washington (Tenet), is travelling through Greece with his girlfriend. After falling asleep at the wheel, he crashes his car through a building, killing his girlfriend on impact. A couple of days later her re-visits the scene only to be shot at by the same policeman who had spoken to him after the crash. Beckett then must get to the American embassy, a short 5-hour drive away.
First things first, the title – Beckett. Yes, it’s the name of the protagonist, but it feels like a working title. It doesn’t tell you anything about the film and kind of feels like they gave up hope before release. Before they landed on Beckett, the original title was Born to be Murdered, which is worse, but at least kind of tells you what the film is about. Maybe Washington wanted his character to have a name so badly, after the unnamed protagonist in Tenet that it was Beckett or nothing.
Like the name, the film doesn’t really tell you what it is for the first twenty or so minutes. It feels like a drama, a romance and even a horror at points before settling down to be a thriller. It’s during this period that the film feels most engaging. It’s not clear what could happen, so anything could happen. It does take quite a while for the tone to really settle into place. It feels like the lack of distinction in the name, reflects the lack of direction for the early part of the film.
Despite that, as the film is slowly unravelling this is when it is at its most suspenseful. The first hour of Beckett is great. From the moment he is shot at by the police, the film is moving quickly. Before that you’re given enough time to care about Beckett so you want him to survive. It helps that Washington is one of the more charming actors around and he is completely believable as an action hero. The stunts are tense and well directed and it’s easy to believe that Washington is capable of them. It’s also good that he doesn’t seem invincible. The wounds he suffers stick around for the rest of the film. They’re not forgotten about, which is refreshing.
It’s the later half of the film that lets everything down. The events start to spiral into the realm of crazy. Beckett isn’t a world-travelling spy, he’s a salesman, but like so many action stars before him, he takes the responsibility on his shoulders and somehow manages to save the day. If the film was slightly shorter it wouldn’t be too much of a problem, it just feels very loose towards the end and starts to drag a fair bit.
Beckett may not be an exceptional film, but it’s still an enjoyable and suspenseful thriller. John David Washington is great and the absolute highlight. There are a lot of tense moments and some good action sequences. The film is well directed with a downbeat tone. It just starts to fall apart at the seams, slipping into clichés towards the end.