‘Beckett’ is an action-packed thriller set against a political backdrop in Greece. It is about an ordinary man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
John David Washington in the titular role is the unlucky protagonist caught up in an extraordinary scenario. While vacationing in a remote hilly region in Greece with his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander), his car skids off the road and lands through the roof of a house. The crash kills his girlfriend immediately and just before he could pass out, in his distressed state, he sees a young boy being whisked away from the site by a woman.
He later wakes up in a hospital and while narrating details of the accident to the police, to his surprise, he learns that the house in which he and April had crashed into was an abandoned one. He later revisits the crash site only to be shot at by people with guns and they include the police officer who was supposedly helping him.
Caught off-guard, he runs for his life. In the process he breaks his arm and is injured by a gun shot. In his desperate attempt, he decides to contact the American Embassy to seek protection, only to be told that help could reach him only a day later.
To expedite the process, Beckett decides to travel from the mountain top to the embassy in Athens. Along the way, he realises that the boy whom he had seen at the accident site was kidnapped for a political agenda. Hence his and the lives of those several people who help him during the course of his journey are also in danger.
It is during the second act of the film, which is the cat-and-mouse chase between the police officer and Beckett, we realise that the film is set in the backdrop of the anti-austerity movement in Greece which involved a series of demonstrations and general strikes.
The plot of the film may appear to be simple without any gimmicks, spectacular visual effects or over-the-top stunts, the narrative is fluid and striking. It does not give you time to think how Beckett was transformed from a victim of a horrible accident to a fugitive on the run, to an unwitting hero. You are drawn with him into his journey.
Watching the wounded Beckett navigate his way through the streets and people’s hearts despite lacking language skills is what makes you root for him. The action scenes in which he fights his pursuers in rustic survival-knock-down attempts is what makes him the underdog one cheers.
Alicia Vikander, in a cute romantic role as April, leaves her impression that lasts till the very end. Yes, you recall her presence in the final act when the camera focuses on Beckett’s palm where you see the heart she had drawn.
Vicky Krieps, playing a random political activist, is charming but wasted in this film. Her interactions with Washington, despite being humane, lacks the heft of a great artiste.
Director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and his cinematographer, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, have creatively mounted the film. Each frame brilliantly captures the minute yet intrinsic elements of the narrative.
Overall, Beckett is a simple yet great thriller.
–By Troy Ribeiro