BEIRUT – A Review by Cynthia Flores

 
BEIRUT – A Review by Cynthia Flores
 
The new film Beirut starts in the 1970s when the city was considered the Paris of the Middle East.  There’s a dinner party with important people that goes terribly wrong.  Flash forward to the 1980s when Beirut was burning and CIA operatives Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike), Donal Gaines (Dean Norris), and Gary Ruzak (Shea Whigham) must reach out to Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm), a former high ranking U.S. diplomat, for help negotiating the release of Cal (Mark Pellegrino), an operative with a lot of info locked away in his head.  If he talks, lots of undercover identities would be blown.  He’s also the ex-business partner and best friend to Mason whom he hasn’t seen since the death of Mason’s beloved wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) at that infamous dinner party ten years earlier.  Cal blamed himself for Nadia's’ death that was triggered by helping out an orphaned young Palestinian boy.  Nadia and Mason really cared for the boy and were actually going to sponsor him so he could go to school.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, he ended up having a hunted PLO terrorist for an older brother and that brother had other plans for him.
 
Mason left Beirut to bury his wife's body back home in the US and never returned or spoke to his friend Cal again.  He didn’t see the civil war that broke out in his beloved city of Beirut.  He spent the last ten years crawling into a bottle of booze and running a small two person negotiation business.  A lousy little life far removed from his days of flying high in the Middle East political scene and negotiating for US politicos.  It’s through his eyes, as he returns to the city of Beirut and drives around it to his hotel, that we see the formerly glorious city turned into piles of rubble and men with guns harassing people.  His life of privilege and happiness was broken by loss and is in shambles just like the city he loved around him.  
 
Beirut was written by Tony Gilroy, who’s the same man that gave us the screenplays for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and all the Bourne action films, so he knows how to tell a thrilling story with a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure.  The director, Brad Anderson, is known for tense, and more introspective films like 2004’s The Machinist starring Christian Bale.  His type of sensibility is not usually applied to most spy films where action is key to the film.  He did seem to spotlight the backstory and inner workings of the flawed hero Mason, as played by the always handsome Jon Hamm.   
 
Beirut is fast-paced, tension-filled, and a pretty good ride for a story told in such a volatile place. It's not the best spy film I've ever seen, but it has a lot of heart.  Beirut is definitely worth seeing on the big screen so I give it a solid B+ rating.
 
Directed by Brad Anderson
Written By Tony Giloy 
Rated R
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 1hr 49min
Drama / Thriller
Wide Release April 10th 
Starring: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Mark Pellegrino, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, Ben Affan 
 
 
 
The Selig Rating Scale:
 
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
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