Beckett is the latest Netflix release, an action thriller set in Greece about an American tourist who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. After brilliant performances in the likes of Tenet and BlacKkKlansman, I watched this purely because of John David Washington. However, sadly this film is lacking in everything we’ve seen before and come to expect from Washington.
John David Washington is Beckett, the titular character on holiday in Greece with his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander). Rather than stick with their original plans of visiting Athens after hearing about a protest due to occur outside their hotel, they decide to take a scenic detour through the more remote areas of northern Greece. Late at night on their way back to their lodgings, Beckett falls asleep at the wheel and crashes their car into a house off the main road. April is ejected from the car and killed on impact, and as Beckett attempts to free himself from the wreckage, sees a woman and a boy appear in the house and flee without helping.
Beckett wakes up in the hospital of a town not far from the accident and is later escorted to the police station to arrange the return of April’s body. There he meets a friendly police officer who asks questions about the accident and seems surprised at Beckett’s claims about the woman and boy he had seen at the house. After his release from the police station and consumed by grief, Beckett walks from the town to the site of the accident. On returning to the house, a woman hikes up from the wilderness and begins to shoot at Beckett. He runs and hides in the bushes, as the police officer from earlier approaches and tries to coax Beckett out from hiding before turning and trying to shoot him himself.
Now Beckett must flee for his life through the Greek wilderness from people trying to kill him for a yet unknown reason. Along the way, he stumbles upon various locals, some friendly, some not, and decides to make his way to the US embassy in Athens, where he eventually meets staffer Tynan (Boyd Holbrook).
It saddens me to say but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an action thriller as dull as this one, and the worst thing is it isn’t just due to a single aspect like a poor plot or questionable acting, it’s the entire package that’s wrong. Aside from the Greek setting, which looks good and feels very authentic (which should be expected when filmed in Greece) with a tense language barrier with the locals, there is nothing redeemable about this film. The plot is ridiculously far-fetched, which may have been enjoyable had anything particularly interesting or tense happened in the 110-minute run time, but nothing did. This entire film is just Beckett running away from people, meeting people he should or shouldn’t trust, and then running away again. Run, trust, run, repeat. This isn’t helped by the score, which is notably absent during a lot of scenes yet overly dramatic and laughable in others. There’s a chase scene with a drumbeat that would’ve been much more at home in Whiplash than a pursuit through Greek streets.
It’s possible that some of these issues could have been bearable had the acting been on point, but Washington and Vikander’s star prowess was nowhere to be seen here. There was no chemistry between Washington and Vikander at all, and the opening scenes with them are incredibly painful and cringeworthy to watch. Neither actor is given anything decent to work with, and it doesn’t get any better from Washington as he stumbles his way through the rest of the film. Aside from one notable scene where Beckett succumbs to his grief later in the film, Washington shows virtually no emotion throughout the entire story and is an entirely one dimensional and bland character. We learn little about Beckett as a person and by the end of the film, I found I didn’t really care either. Especially when he makes questionable and ridiculous decisions like jumping from near the top of a multi-storey car park onto a moving car floors below. I almost feel like this should’ve been a comedy.
There was some promise in Beckett’s over the top plot that if handled much better, could have at least made a vaguely entertaining thriller. However bad performances and just overall bad execution have led to a very dull and virtually unwatchable film.
See all photos >>
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!