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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Beckett' Review: John David Washington's Trip To Greece Takes A Turn

John David Washington running in smoke at a riot

I've never been to Greece but it sure can look lovely there based on the visual splendour of Beckett, a low-key action thriller that's dropping on Netflix with what seems like subzero level buzz. Directed by Italian filmmaker Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, who also has the only story credit while the script comes from Kevin A. Rice, the film starts with a bright opening where the eponymous American, Beckett (John David Washington), is travelling through Greece with his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander) until they have a grim car accident. After Beckett wakes up in a small town's hospital, he finds himself running from local officers after they try to kill him for reasons unknown to Beckett. His plan is to make it to the U.S. embassy in Athens to get help while he also tries to figure out the conspiracy behind the murder attempt, which might be about something bigger than just a tourist on a vacation.

If you listen closely, you can probably hear the annoyed moans of those accustomed to American action thrillers because Beckett isn't trying to be anything like them, which is the exact reason why this movie succeeds as much as it does. Our main character isn't in a terrible shape or anything but he's nothing special either which then leads to him feeling more vulnerable than often is the case, partly because Washington gets the character well. Bullets don't magically swerve around him, he avoids close combat, every fall takes a toll on his body and costumes as well as the makeup department make sure that it all shows too. There also isn't your usual villain exposition but instead you don't get to know much about the bad guys, other than they're getting closer and closer to Beckett, making the situation feel more urgent.

And even though we're going through small towns, beekeepers in the countryside, average cities and eventually Athens very fast, Cito Filomarino and DoP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom find time to use those locations to the film's benefit while Elliott Hostetter's production design reinforces it. There are a lot of cars, houses, extras and changing settings involved but they are tastefully adding to the story. In terms of that story and how the script drives it forward, the ''conspiracy'' could've been a bit more intriguing or specific and some of the dialogue is cheesy (''love attack'' just doesn't sound right) but it's never a true dealbreaker because the movie doesn't try to be foolish. In its DNA, it has some older thrillers and nods to the Bond franchise but it never loses its own titular character, thankfully. Also, we just don't get these kinds of midrange movies all that often anymore so I'll look past the love attack this time.

Smileys: Production design, locations

Frowneys: Dialogue

I don't think this will boost tourism, however.


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