Beirut: One of Jon Hamm’s Best To Date

(l-r) Rosamund Pike stars as Sandy Crowder, Jon Hamm as Mason Skiles and Dean Norris as Donald Gaines in BEIRUT, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Sife Eddine El Amine / Bleecker Street

Beirut dives into the complexities of what the U.S. Government is willing to do when it comes to saving the life of one of their own.

Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is an American living in Beiruit in 1972.  However, there is more to the American diplomat than meats the eye.  One of his closest friends, Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino), just happens to work as a CIA Agent.  When Skiles and his wife host a party, Cal gives them some shocking news.  A 13-year old Lebanese orphan, Karim (Yoau Saian Rosenberg), has been living with Cal and his wife.  The two are hoping to add him to their family but Cal’s news changes things for better or worse.  Karim’s older brother was involved with the Munich Massacre and is very much alive.  The party comes to an unfortunate end shortly thereafter.

Next thing you know, it’s ten years later and Mason is working as a civilian mediator.  Meanwhile, Cal is being held hostage.  Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike) and Donald Gaines (Dean Norris) realize that the only person for the job is Mason.  With a plane ticket, passport, and cash on hand, Mason finds himself going from Boston to Beirut.  It’s no longer the city that it used to be.  Rather, it’s a war zone.  The former diplomat also gets looped in by both CIA and Embassy officials, Donald Gaines (Dean Norris), Gary Ruzak (Shea Whigham) and Ambassador Frank Whalen (Larry Pine), as to why he’s back in the Middle East.  The only problem for Mason is that in order to get Cal safely retrieved, he has to turn over a terrorist, Abu Rajal (Hicham Ouraqa), in which nobody knows the whereabouts.

Between cinematographer Björn Charpentier, production designer Arad Sawat, and costume designer Carlos Rosario, the production did a fine job with re-creating the 1970s and 1980s on screen.  The cinematic pallete runs to the dark side and feels true to the 1970s.  It feels very much as if the film could have been released over 40 years ago!

There’s something about Jon Hamm’s ability to fit into whatever decade is required for his work.  Whether it’s as an advertising executive in Mad Men or as a diplomat in Beirut, he’s able to deliver such a captivating performance.  The political thriller gets some of the best work from the actor.

The film could easily be a John Le Carré adaption if it weren’t inspired by actual events. Tony Gilroy’s script is no doubt inspired by CIA Station Chief William Buckley’s kidnapping in 1984.  It’s a script that really examines how complex the situation is.

Beirut takes us behind the scenes of a complex situation while ultimately showing that nobody is perfect.

DIRECTOR:  Brad Anderson
SCREENWRITER:  Tony Gilroy
CAST:  Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Mark Pellegrino, Larry Pine, Shea Whigham, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Idir Chender, and Jonny Coyne

Following the world premiere during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Bleecker Street opens Beirut in theaters on April 11, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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