Director: Ferdinando Cito Filomarino
Starring: John David Washington, Boyd Holbrook, Vicky Krieps, Alicia Vikander
Run Time: 108 mins
Beckett is a Luca Guadagnino-produced Euro-chase thriller that is generic and more than a little implausible in its narrative but it is worth a watch for its flair behind the camera. Directed by Ferdinando Cito Filmomarino, Guadagnino’s ex-boyfriend, the film tells the story of the titular character, Beckett (John David Washington) who is vacationing in Greece with his girlfriend, April (Alicia Vikander). When they are driving, he happens to fall asleep at the wheel and roll the car down a hill into a a house, the accident taking the life of his girlfriend and said house just happening to be associated with an international political scandal that the titular character then finds himself embroiled in. To come out of this film having a meaningful experience requires one to to suspend belief and then some.
Beckett gets off to a poor start and the relationship between Washington and Vikander is inauthentic. Their lines are stilted and they don’t have much of a chemistry. The film picks up when the inciting incident occurs and what follows is an entertaining albeit by-the-numbers Euro action thriller. Beckett is heavily indebted to 70’s conspiracy films and you’ll likely see the twists coming. The action sequences are sparse but enjoyable and rather silly. Washington makes for a charismatic, fish-out-of-water lead and is worth the price of admission alone. Vicky Krieps makes a commendable effort as a fellow traveller who is campaigning against the political situation who Beckett’s path crosses with, although she is under-utilised.
There is a moody score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose sparse use of music creates a sense of palpable intrigue for the film. Guadagnino-regular Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s cinematography paints a gritty picture of Greece, from its lavish but desolate hill tops to its crowded city centres juxtaposed with images of poverty.
It feels like the distributor wasn’t quite sure what to do with Beckett, portrayed by the fact it has been released straight onto Netflix. Even the title of the film is rather lacklustre and does nothing to sell it. If you can switch your brain off and look past Beckett‘s flaws, what you have here is an entertaining meat and potatoes thriller with an amiable central performance bolstered by some excellent cinematography and a moody score.