Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Beirut: DVD Review

Beirut: DVD Review

A formulaic spy thriller about a flawed hero called in to resolve a kidnapping that has a personal connection, Beirut is a solid but unspectacular thriller that ticks all the boxes and hits all the beats.

Mad Men's Jon Hamm is Mason Skiles, a former diplomat, who despite all the schmoozing and boozing is unable to prevent an event at his pad in Beirut turning into a tragedy in 1972.

Beirut: NZIFF Review

Wounded emotionally by what occurs and having left the region, Skiles is forced to return when a colleague is kidnapped - and he finds himself entangled in the clandestine goings on of the political uprisings and the American intentions for them.

Beirut is that typical story, one of you not knowing whose side is whose, and which person is to be trusted.

In many ways, it feels all too familiar, just set in a different world we're used to seeing.
But the war torn Beirut feels gritty and grimy, and when Skiles returns a decade after leaving to see the evidence of civil uprising and the destruction, Hamm plays it excellently as Skiles steps out of the airport. At once shocked and simultaneously trying to work out how best to negotiate survival, the nuances of Hamm's flawed hero are thrown sharply into focus.

In fact, Hamm largely is the presence which keeps Beirut going; the conflict's cost is etched deep within his drawn face, his eyes puffy from decades of alcoholism and regret.

Elsewhere, Beirut's hoary tropes feel like they exist simply to hit dramatic beats, and it's not helped in parts by a script that largely feels ripped from plenty of other sources. The drama's at its best when it's invested in the personal, and it's never better than when Hamm elevates it. 

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