The hero runs away and so does its opportunity.
John David Washington is able to live up to his father Denzel’s expectations, coming on the heels of “BlacKkKlansman,” “Tenet,” and “Malcolm & Marie,” etc., but his new thriller “Beckett,” just released on Netflix, seems too easy for it to be a masterpiece on par with them. It knows how to be an edge-of-your-seat movie, especially when it’s a manhunt film, but it doesn’t completely know how to be written on a provocative level. As the title character, Washington delivers, but the script has to do more than jus give him star billing.
The movie begins with a romantic getaway in Greece for Beckett and his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander), which ends when the former falls asleep at the wheel, crashes into a house, and accidentally kills the latter. His emotions when he lost the love of his life are real, but the way the accident is drawn is too silly to be taken seriously.
The house he crashed into was said to be abandoned, although at the scene, Beckett saw two people inside-a woman and a boy-and later when he goes back there, he gets hunted down by a woman (Lena Kitsopoulou) and a dirty cop (Panos Koronis). His only hope is to get to the Embassy in Athens, and the only people who can help him get there are two political activists: Lena (Vicky Krieps) and Eleni (Maria Votti).
The story takes place in the middle of a protest rally, so you can tell that his manhunt has something to do with that.
For about 45 minutes, we see Beckett running and dodging the bad guys, who have no pay-off or depth. Why would they explain to him what their deal with him is? Who knows? They could be involved with the kidnapping of a boy, the one Beckett sees during his accident. And you know the movie isn’t over when he makes it to the Embassy, and meets the wolf in sheep’s clothing Tynan (Boyd Holbrook). At the very least during this period, it is quite exciting to see the good guy running from the bad guys, which usually works in an international thriller.
“Beckett” was written and directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, who had a relationship with Luca Guadagnino for 11 years, and served as a second unit director on his films “A Bigger Splash,” “Call Me By Your Name,” and “Suspiria.” And Guadagnino serves as a producer here. He appears to be a student of his repertoire, but he’s not yet a graduate, based on how both he and screenwriter Kevin A. Rice provide the narrative. To be a profound international thriller, you need to dig deeper into the story, you need to be less formulaic, and you need to give the main protagonist his construction.
Filomarino does, at the very least, cast Washington in the right role, have cinematographer Sayombhu Mukeeprom (another Guadagnino collaborator) make the film look great, and have composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (“The Last Emperor,” “The Revenant”) make it sound dangerous and thrilling. He has fresh people doing what they do best, so I have confidence that his next film will be an improvement.
Streaming on Netflix