Brad Anderson’s new film, Beirut has been receiving mixed reviews. Some critics are calling it not accurate. That said, it remains one of the more intelligent and adult films released so far this year which means it will lose money and die a quick death at the box office. With no Marvel superheroes or bottom-feeder level comedy, the film has little to attract the majority of today’s audience.
The script had an extended gestation period. Screenwriter Tony Gilroy wrote the story more than two decades ago. During those twenty years or so Hollywood stopped paying too much attention to this sort mid-size film. Why spend money on an iffy financial project when we can pander to the child mentality and make millions.
Jon Hamm portrays Mason Skiles, a diplomat/negotiator whose wife was killed during an attack back in 1972. At the same time Skiles finds out the 13-year boy the couple was going to adopt is the younger brother of the terrorist responsible for the attack that killed his wife. During the attack, the older brother takes the kid.
Now ten years later, Skiles, back in the States, an alcoholic, but still mediating, only now it is between unions and corporations. He is persuaded to come out of retirement to help find and negotiate the release of an old friend, an American operative held by the Palestinians, or maybe it’s the Israelis, or the Lebanese or even the PLO. No one knows for sure who has him. After all, it’s Beirut. Hamm is perfectly cast, yeah he is that good, and Rosamund Pike has plenty of good moments.
Beirut is an uneven film. Still, it has a lot of smart dialogue, edge of seat suspense and thrills. Unfortunately, it most likely will be forgotten and off the cinema screens in a week, or two. Beirut is the kind of film that should be supported by serious filmgoers.