Directed by Brad Anderson
A U.S. fixer races to save a hostage’s life.
Jon Hamm “has finally gotten a movie script that lets him strut his stuff,” said David Edelstein in New York magazine. In this tightly plotted espionage thriller, the former Mad Men star plays Mason Skiles, a fast-talking, heavy-drinking ex-diplomat who’s flown into 1982 Beirut to save the life of an old friend and ex-colleague who’s been kidnapped by a Palestinian fringe group. Though Hamm “still doesn’t have the outsize personality we associate with major movie stars,” he has range, and “he can think on screen”—making us watch him closely as Skiles responds to whatever’s thrown at him. Though many Lebanese viewers found the film’s trailer insulting, “Beirut is not a simple USA good, Middle East bad narrative,” said Richard Whittaker in The Austin Chronicle. Blame for the country’s devastating civil war is spread evenly across several parties, and the Americans are dramatically hindered by intramural rivalries. Though Beirut isn’t a particularly daring movie, “it is still quite good,” said Jordan Hoffman in TheGuardian.com. The big final twist “isn’t quite as sexy as it thinks it is,” but Beirut, “when it’s working well, is of le Carré caliber.”