I don’t like it when they simply name a film after the main character. I have a bit of a thing about it. There are exceptions to the rule but generally I just find it terribly unimaginative. John David Washington’s latest is guilty of this big time; Beckett is a meaningless and totally uninspiring thing to call it.
Interestingly though there is a different name that comes to mind watching this movie, and that name is Hitchcock. I’m not saying that Beckett is of the quality of the famous director’s best work, and this is something I have said of other films on one or two occasions, but it does seem to be influenced by him. It isn’t just the story of a regular innocent man who gets caught up in a dangerous escapade when he is in the wrong place at the wrong time, a narrative that Hitchcock perfected in films like The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps and North By Northwest, it is the shots and screen composition too. There are edits and held close ups that feel very reminiscent of Leytonstone’s Master of Suspense.
The story arc of the Alicia Vikander’s April reflects that of one of Hitch’s leading ladies as well but I won’t say which. Just that it is a bold thing to do with your most appealing character now as it was then.
The film also has a series of ‘what would you do moments?’, as this ordinary guy has to get himself out of increasingly extraordinary situations, just as in the aforementioned films along with Strangers on a Train, The Lady Vanishes, Vertigo, Sabotage, Lifeboat and Rear Window.
Crucially the director of this film, Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, also manages to keeps things largely believable as Washington’s Beckett is hunted by the authorities having seen something they didn’t want him to and finds there is seemingly no one he can trust. The point at which he stumbles across some allies with some useful plot exposition is a little contrived but largely this is a gripping and intriguing movie.
Beckett is a curiously small and low budget film for both Vikander and Washington, even with its big ambitions, but it is interesting to see them playing demonstrably ordinary people. This is quite the departure for Washington whose previous characters have been so capable and confident. His Beckett is a particular contrast to the action stylings of the protagonist in Tenet as he attempts the classic snatch a motorbike move in the middle of a chase and totally flubs it.
Beckett seems to have arrived on Netflix with no fanfare and I’ve seen few reviews come up but it is a good film. I wish they’d called it something else, it was actually called Born to be Murdered when Netflix bought it which is clumsy but works, as it is though this is my only real criticism.