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Beckett Film Review

★★★ Stars

A man stands in a dimly lit train station, looking back over his shoulder. His arm is in a cast with bullet holes cutting through his shirt on his upper arm, blood staining the cloth.

Beckett, directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, follows the titled character (John David Washington) as he travels to Greece with his girlfriend (Alicia Vikander.) After a devastating car accident occurs, Beckett finds himself caught in the centre of a dangerous political conspiracy and must run for his life in hopes of finding somewhere he can finally be safe.

As one would expect from the BlacKkKlansman and Tenet star, John David Washington gives an engaging performance as Beckett. His talent and attention to detail paired with wonderful direction in terms of characterisation allows this character to grow expansively throughout the duration of the film. His performance is bursting with intensity; his vehemence is transferable to viewers and I can guarantee that you’ll feel exhausted in the best way possible once the credits start to roll. I’m not sure about you, but my favourite films are those that drain me — films that make you feel so much within the limits of running time that it’s as if you are the character’s companion along the way. There’s a difference between this and being totally immersed in a film though; Beckett intrigued me enough to be able to attach myself to the characters and keep my eyes on their every move, however, because of the film having many different components that aren’t developed in greater detail, it’s hard to describe my intrigue linking with an immersive experience. The story is interesting and not complicated to follow but it’s just… a lot, with no sense of a wider perspective to chip away at. Although, being left with kind of an ‘anticlimax’ can be seen as a well thought out choice since it showcases how horrid and intricate the world of politics and conspiracy is and, as unfortunate as it may be, staying true to real life confusion, distrust and harm.

Beckett immediately dives into the bond shared between the character and his girlfriend April, opening with a scene of them skin to skin in a loving, quiet manner. Through naturally written dialogue with a balanced lack of straightforward context to their conversations, their personalities and how they fit together as a pair shines beautifully within the first ten minutes of the film. It was surprising to have the ability to acknowledge a buildup of this kind so quickly, and also to see most – if not all – of this just through how the actors interpret the dialogue and how they interact with each other onscreen. Although their relationship isn’t necessarily the core of the plot, the strong emotions felt in this short beginning gives viewers a heavy rucksack of emotions to carry as they sprint alongside Beckett following the accident.

Action sequences and the repercussions of such violence are messy which gives an overall feel of refreshing realism. Beckett is simply a tourist in Greece, he isn’t trained to fight as his day job back home. A lot of the time with plots of this kind it seems to be forgotten that characters caught in a crossfire situation aren’t built to protect themselves with ease. The refreshing element comes straight from the fact that Beckett’s movements are constantly tangled and lacking the force needed to stop him from spilling any blood. The sequences are still incredibly coordinated but in a way that portrays the character accurately. There are many moments when Beckett decides to take ‘leaps of faith’ with little hesitation as his body plummets to the ground; another superb addition to characterisation. His fight or flight mode is obviously activated and taking over his senses as he is being shot at for a reason unknown to him, but he is also unfazed by the unknown state of his existence as he jumps from a cliff to escape. A perfect mix between protective instincts taking over and the grief he hasn’t had time to process – he has the instinct to survive but, after the trauma he has already suffered in the car accident, does he really want to?

Lastly, I refuse to leave out a mention to the great musical work of Ryuichi Sakamoto. The tracks used in the film are vastly different from each other and don’t follow a certain vibe or theme that films like Oblivion or Interstellar have. Instead, I discovered that each track seems to match the emotion of Beckett in that particular scene. The diversity of the music flows with the range of frantic emotions Beckett feels as he tries to process the situation he has found himself in.

Beckett, now streaming on Netflix, provides an enjoyable thrill with some truly terrific performances and a brilliant list of recognisable names throughout the crew as well. The positives here do somewhat outweigh the negatives in my opinion which is something you don’t get to experience fairly often in film.



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