John David Washington stars in Beckett as the titular American who, at one point in his vacation, finds himself in rural Greek hospital. He eventually ends up in a police station where a local cop consoles him for his loss. That’s after he uses their phone to call Bob, his girlfriend April’s (Alicia Vikander) father. He isn’t able to tell him the truth about April dying in a car accident. So let’s back up a bit, because the car accident, in fairness, is slightly interesting. They crash into a house where a boy and a woman lives, and both the accident and the family makes him want to revisit the house. He probably wants to apologize to the two people whose house he ruined, and that’s where his real trouble starts.
The film, intentionally or through osmosis, has enough similarities with other thrillers that have recently come out either on Netflix or in theatres. There’s a rural component her as it does in Pig. That other film has chunks of it taking place in the Cascadian forests. Meanwhile, this film chooses the Greek forests and its bendy trees as the place where Beckett runs away from the cops. The cops who went from consoling him to wanting him dead. Before entering these forests, he tells a local couple to not tell the cops that they helped him to make his chances of escape better. Although the first thing that might be on our mind would be that not telling would help the locals’ chances instead. Another person taking the chance is Lena (Vicky Krieps), a German leftist in Greece. Um, what?
Beckett sneaks into a train to get to Athens, where he can find the US Embassy and, presumably, safety. During these train ride, or whatever transportation he chooses, he encounters the locals. It’s difficult to be fair in how the film depicts Greek people. Sure, there’s the occasional child who looks at Beckett curiously for obvious reasons. There’s the English interpreter in the town where the accident took place. And she looked at him like she was sorry for him, obviously. And of course, we’re on Beckett’s side, but the film has its share of Greek people staring him down. It belabors the point that there’s a right wing surge in the country. And somehow his accident got him on those people’s wrong side, which is why they’re chasing him.
Washington is always an interesting actor to watch. There’s a subtlety about him in BlacKKKlansman and a coolness in Tenet, and here he does his best in showing brain and brawn in what’s basically a 100 minute chase film. ‘Doing his best’ may be harsh in writing something that isn’t really his fault. Sure, sometimes adrenalin and pressure can bring out the best in people. But it doesn’t explain whether or not that theory is true. It also doesn’t explain what makes him exceptional to last those 100 minutes instead of someone else in the same situation. And I want to expand on that situation while going into spoilers. He reaches the embassy and talks to one of the diplomats there (Boyd Holbrook). Something goes wrong there, making the plot more convoluted than necessary.