Beckett Review: John David Washington's Movie Is A Genuine Edge Of The Seat Thriller

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In the opening sequence, we see the hero Beckett and beloved in bed. In the closing scene Beckett says he should have been dead. Between these two moments bracketing Beckett’s mis-adventures in scenic Greece, there is murder death and dread.


Do you remember those thrillers in the past when you were left literally perched at the edge of your seat? I haven’t seen this level of survival instincts being applied in any recent film. What beckons you to Beckett is the Everyman quality of the hero. This time John David Washington (for those who came in late, he is the legendary Denzel Washington’s son) plays no super-hero. He is a normal average joe who falls asleep on the wheel ,gets beaten up by the baddies, and just wants to return home after a ghastly tragedy.


But the Greek goons just won’t let him return to America. Beckett’s escape attempts are the narrative’s master-plan. They got me so involved that at times I held my breath as the villains, largely a hulky English-speaking Greek cop (Panos Koronis) closed in on Beckett(don’t think Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole). The train and subway chase sequences are specially riveting.More Harrison Ford than Keanu Reeves.


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The narrative is brisk and largely breathless. Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is not interested in offering us a guided tour of Greece. The backdrop serves only as the impetus to generate a kind of nerve wracking suspense scarcely seen in contemporary chase thrillers. Japanese genius composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s minimalist background is sparingly used.


There is a likeable restraint to the storytelling. Not exactly a less-is-more attitude. But this is assuredly a thriller with the guts to rein-in its enthusiasm. What I also liked was the kindness of strangers who risked their own lives to save Beckett. However the film’s garbled politics, which involves a kidnapped child and a conspiracy to overthrow the government , left me cold and confused.


Some of the dialogues are grossly stilted, as though the actors mouthing those lines are not sure of what they’re saying. The prologue where Washington mumbles sweet-nothings into gf Alicia Vikander’s ears are annoying because only they know what the conversation is all about. I saw more chemistry between Washington and a kindly activist who helps him on the way. And Boyd Holbrook (of Narcos) as a staffer at the American embassy, has the most imbecilic two-faced role in recent memory.


The audiences’ involvement begins only when the suspense kicks in. It dies with suspense. The heart-in-the-mouth chase sequences are the heart of the plot. In this case, the lethal uncertainties of the journey are most certainly more potent than the destination.





Image source: IMDb, Youtube/Netflix, Instagram/theprivatecinema


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