Netflix films have been knocking it out of the park this year, between The Woman in the Window, the Fear Street trilogy, and A Classic Horror Story. Next on their roster is politically-charged thriller, Beckett. Starring John David Washington (Tenet, Malcolm & Marie) as the titular lead character, director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino wrings maximum action from a limited-scope concept that flourishes the more it opens itself up. Beckett acts as a showcase for John David Washington’s immeasurable talents, and will certainly have me circling back to finally watch Tenet.
Beckett (John David Washington) and his wife, April (Alicia Vikander), are spending time together on a quaint vacation in Greece. They make a game out of creating backstories for people they see in the distance, and her stories always “end up sleazy”. The duo have an adorable vibe, and one can feel their connection, however brief we are allowed to glimpse it. When they depart for Athens, Beckett starts getting drowsy. A long stretch of road where they tease each other playfully ends with April eventually falling asleep. Beckett drifts off at the wheel, and they crash violently, bursting through someone’s house. April is horrifically ejected from the car. Beckett crawls out, briefly glimpsing a red-haired little child, before blacking out near April’s body.
Shortly after this, Beckett wakes up in a Greek hospital. A woman with cranky English translates for him about seeing his wife’s body, and he ends up returning to the scene of the accident. A woman almost instantly opens fire on him, and from this moment on, he is constantly on the move. He becomes trapped in the grip of a conspiracy that stretches far beyond what one would suspect. On the run in a foreign country, Beckett must do anything to survive. Uncovering the truth about a mysterious red-headed child may hold the secrets to it all.
Beckett is a propulsive thriller that never stops moving, hitting running speed early on. The quick pace gives little time for character depth or definition beyond Beckett himself. We can grasp what type of person he is, but his actual outward personality and life story beyond this vacation is not entirely clear. The resolution to the true reason why everyone and their mother is after Beckett also feels a little half-baked and generic.
Despite some minor caveats, Beckett is edge-of-your-seat entertainment that feels tailor made for the theatrical experience. I am happy that Netflix picked it up, as it is a movie that deserves to be seen by a wide audience, but it is a such a shame that it won’t be played on the big screen. The backdrop of foreign locales spices up the story, and Beckett himself quite literally goes to hell and back in his hunt for answers. He endures all manner of stabbing, beating, and bruises, and each of them feels tangible thanks to John David Washington. Other actors like Boyd Holbrook, Vicky Krieps, and Daphne Alexander pad out the ensemble, with each making their mark in an exciting way. For those craving thrills, Beckett may be the perfect movie to satiate your appetite.
Beckett goes on the run when it hits Netflix on Friday, August 13th. It also screened as part of the 2021 Locarno Film Festival.