When I saw the top-billed talent in Beirut as actors Rosamund Pike and Jon Hamm, I immediately thought, “Count me in.” The premise sounded promising, too: Hamm’s character Mason Skiles has to reach back into his old bag of diplomatic tricks to try to free his friend of a terrorist group’s control. Nothing about this Brad Anderson movie sounded bad.
And then the film started.
The film begins in 1972 Beirut, where Mason is seen with his wife Nadia (Leïla Bekhti) and their soon-to-be adopted son Karim (Idir Chender), who was rescued from a refugee camp. Following a dinner at their house, a militia group led by Karim’s brother stormed the party, kidnapped Karim and subsequently killed Nadia. The film loosely introduces Mason’s friend Cal (Mark Pellegrino).
Ten years later, Hamm is rocking killer sideburns and gets asked to negotiate a deal for an American that was kidnapped. Mason doesn’t budge, but then caves when told Cal was kidnapped…and “who” kidnapped him.
This film’s foundation is built upon the typical thriller, spy-type films we’re used to seeing in times of war. There’s a slow burn, like many films before it, but this slow start drags too far into the meat of the story. The writing is very surface level and Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy‘s script lends nothing to the imagination. Everything is put in plain sight and much of it is told rather than shown. Quite frankly, this film is dry in most areas where it should be a bit more colorful. The dialogue is full of swearing — which isn’t bad — but there’s a dependence on F-bombs to make situations feel more real. I expected a bit more from Anderson.
I caught myself after 45 minutes asking when this film would break out of its slow-ish funk, but it didn’t. There’s this boring spell that washes over Beirut and lingers for the rest of its run time, which is incredibly long for such a two-dimensional story (1 hour and 49 minutes). The lack of chemistry between Pike and Hamm didn’t help, either. I never felt that their presence together on-screen was convincing, and in many scenes they were just running through the motions. The rest of the supporting cast? Just as forgettable.
The only redeeming factor is the selection of on-location shoots that add some sort of realism. But it’s a stretch to say that the film feels genuine when the rest…isn’t.
Beirut is simply a very bland film that struggles to get out of the gates. On one hand, the script is really nothing to write home about, but on the other hand Hamm and Pike aren’t at their best, either. This is a film that works straight-to-DVD in moments and in others, an airplane flick that you can turn on and slowly fall asleep to.
I was provided a screener link for purposes of this review thanks to Bleeker Street and Jan Mitchell & Associates. ❤
Beirut is rated-R, runs 1 hour and 49 minutes and hits theaters nationwide on April 11, 2018.
Theaters showing Beirut in South Florida:
- AMC Sunset Place 24 Theatres, South Miami, FL
- AMC Aventura Mall 24 Theatres, Aventura, FL
- AMC Pompano Beach 18, Pompano Beach, FL
- CENTRN CMX Brickell City Center 10, Miami, FL
West Palm Beach
- West Palm Beach AMC City Place 20, West Palm Beach, FL
- West Palm Beach AMC Indian River 24, Vero Beach, FL
- West Palm Beach CENTRN Downtown at the Mall Gardens Palm 16, Palm Beach Gardens, FL