A smart, tense, and fairly straightforward spy thriller done well.
Tackling anything as messy as 70s-80s era Beirut, Lebanon and attempting to make something not only coherent, but also compelling is quite an undertaking. But, with sharp writing, strong performances, and an effectively scaled production the 2018 Netflix thriller ‘Beirut‘ is much better than it should be.
Mason Stiles (Jon Hamm) was a top US diplomat living in Beirut during the early 70s until tragedy sent him home and down a bottle. Ten years later he’s asked to return to this now war torn city and negotiate for the life of an old friend.
But, in this most effed up of cities friend and enemy aren’t so easy to distinguish. His principle ally is non-BS intelligence operative Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike). The rest of the able support cast is mostly ignored in favor of story. As Hamm and Pike have such great chemistry I only really needed to care about them to remain engaged, anyway.
Filmmaker Brad Anderson and scribe Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Trilogy) keep the characters smart and leave most of the history lessons and politics alone. This is A leads to B leads to C plot that moves fast and never bores. While the Moroccan locations fill in nicely for this ruble strewn once cultural mecca.
‘Beirut‘ is a well made film that tells a sorta simple story big. And with two strong leads and little filler it’s an entertaining, if not all that enlightening, way to spend two hours. After all, a little confusion is just the price of admission with political thrillers.