Movie Review: Who Names Their Kid ‘Beckett’

Titular character Beckett, played by John David Washington. Via Netflix.

Ferdinando Cito Filomarino’s latest film, Beckett, is the classic wrong place at the wrong time. Dial that up with political intrigue and toss in a couple of murder attempts with our protagonist running aimlessly for his life and you might have a mystery-thriller; add a final, predictable plot twist into the assortment of plot elements and you have a narrative with suspense, mystery, and a thrilling run. Cap all of that with Ryuichi Sakamoto’s (“Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence”) excellent composition, hold that up in scrutiny to the test of light and it will look good enough for a 2-hour plus run. 


    The thriller element is weaker than the other core plot determinants because the lead is an ordinary man in an extraordinary political conspiracy. He neither has the physical skill set nor the wit to go against his enemies. When compared in terms of suspense and mystery with the movies from The Bourne series, Beckett (John David Washington) is helpless. Jason Bourne simply remembers how to fight numerous enemies simultaneously but Beckett is an everyday tech guy with a dead girlfriend (Alicia Vikander) on vacation in Greece.

John Washington and Alicia Vikander in Beckett. Via Netflix.

The movie understands this limitation from the first act and strengthens itself with this mundaneness by emphasizing on Beckett’s impracticality in the face of an alien world. His girlfriend, April, makes the call to the hotel on their way back; she sets new rules for their relationship early on—not in a bid for control but to nudge Beckett towards practicality. “Even when we fight, we are still together.” It is rare that the apparent weakness of a film should also be a strong point. This character trait is what influences all of Beckett’s decisions throughout the movie—a recurring naivety in the face of nefariousness—and not until the final act would Beckett take charge and resolve the plot, albeit after the plot had presented a series of unsatisfactory deus-ex-machina introductions.

    While Beckett takes the beating from the situation, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s (Call Me by Your Name, The Revenant, Proxima) music tightens the aura. With Sakamoto’s music composition, the upend feel of being simultaneously lulled to sleep and being jarred awake, sometimes in a single beat, is constant. But this shouldn’t be surprising. Sakamoto has done this before with his 1996 composition, “Rain” or in his “Killing Hawk” composition for The Revenant. In Beckett, Sakamoto comes alive, and his composition becomes an accompanying protagonist. Where Beckett fails to lead, Sakamoto’s music tightens the plot and it retreats when Beckett comes forward. Beckett goes on the run throughout the movie with his girlfriend’s drawing, Sakamoto’s music, and the goodwill of strangers. The subplot of a kidnapped boy also runs concurrently with Beckett. John David Washington (Tenet) and Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider) pull their individual weight, yet something that cannot be placed feels missing. Or, unlike Sakamoto’s music, something about the plot feels loosened when it should be anything but.

Rating: 6/10

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Side Musings

  • Who names their kid Beckett?
  • There has got to be a lot of dogs in Greece. They kept popping up in the frames.

Beckett is currently streaming on Netflix.

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