John David Washington and Alicia Vikander in 'Beckett' (2021)
Beckett (2021) Netflix
Stories & Ideas

Tue 21 Sep 2021

ACMI Recommends: Beckett

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Grace Quiason

Visitor Experience Guide

Feel like an exciting vacation? How about running for your life across the picturesque landscape of Greece?

Beckett is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish… well, kind-of. It's a quieter riff on the action-thriller movies that Hollywood normally churns out – think Jason Bourne, but not as flashy and conventional, combined with the paranoid thrillers of the 1970s, and you have Beckett.

The film starts with two American lovebirds, Beckett and April (played by John David Washington and Alicia Vikander respectively), on holiday in Athens. En route to the next spot on their tour they get into a serious car accident. From then on our shell-shocked protagonist (Beckett) is unwittingly embroiled in a large-scale blackmail plot, as he is targeted in a manhunt that sees him run, fall, and get in and out of a variety of different vehicles in a desperate attempt to clear his name. Beckett's unfamiliarity with the location, language, and geo-political situation in which he’s found himself, keeps viewers on the edge of their seat as they’re taken along a captivating and energetic journey, as our protagonist unravels a web of political unrest and conspiracy.

Beckett's story is propelled by the sincerity of Washington’s performance as the titular character; you can really feel his pain, foregrounded by the immense stamina he exerts while on the run. The film is also fortified by the precise and uncomplicated direction of Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, and his collaboration with producer Luca Guadagnino, who directed A Bigger Splash and Call Me by Your Name (on both of which Filomarino acted as second unit director). The film is also fantastic, musically, with a great opening track by Blood Orange, and an evocative, almost haunting score composed by Oscar-winner Ryuichi Sakamoto.

What makes this film stand out is the subtlety with which the story is handled, and the freshness of unorthodox action sequences. Beckett revives a stagnant formula, one which tends to excel at the box-office but rarely offers something new. If you could do with some beautifully shot escapism right now, I would highly recommend this reworking of the standard action-thriller.

– Grace Quiason

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