As Netflix look to expand their bevvy on international feature film titles, they have collaborated with Antonia director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino to bring the low-key action film, Beckett, to the small screen.
Having worked alongside the influential Luca Guadagnino as the second unit director during the production of A Bigger Splash, Call Me by Your Name and Suspiria, Filomarino’s credits are certainly impressive. Building his expertise across several projects, Filomarino’s latest film takes his name to new heights, with Beckett being a high-stakes political thriller, starring John David Washington as the titular character alongside Alicia Vikander, Boyd Holbrook and Vicky Krieps.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Denzel, John David Washington takes on the action-packed lead role of a tourist in Greece who finds himself embroiled in a political conspiracy after experiencing a tragic car accident with his wife, April (Alicia Vikander). Collapsing the wall of a nearby home, Beckett crawls from the crash site of his car and sees the fateful figure of a small, striking child, a sight that will throw him into a whirlwind of political trauma.
Making his way across the varied Greek landscape, Washington’s Beckett scrambles in search of the American embassy in Athens whilst being pursued by a team of ruthless mysterious agents. It’s an occasionally compelling journey with several moments of significant downtime, as whilst John David Washington and the landscape he finds himself in is primed for a fast-paced action thriller, the screenplay never really reaches the heights of our expectations. Underwritten during the most important moments, screenwriter Kevin A. Rice seems more concerned with the film’s flimsy political motivations rather than fuelling its central thriller narrative.
It all makes for a confused political thriller that isn’t quite political enough to enhance its subtext, and not thrilling enough to stand out in the busy genre market. The ingredients are all present for a compelling journey, though the gravity of the situation at hand is never truly realised, making each new story beat feel stale and stagnant. John David Washington does his best with the material though looks a little lost in the role which offers little depth or direction.
In conversation with the director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, the filmmaker discussed his ambitions behind the lead character, commenting, I was like, ‘what, if a guy like that finds themselves involved in a political conspiracy, what happens then’”, continuing, he added, “Someone that could be relatable to not just, you know, not an action man, also someone that you could relate to, and project yourself onto? In the way that he’s a normal guy”.
Whilst this certainly comes across in the final film, it seems that ‘Beckett’ is simply a little too normal to find inspiring. As he dashes across the backstreets of Athens and the rolling hills of the Greek countryside, there’s so little reason to clutch onto the character’s coattails that after a while, you simply give up.