First Hit: I really liked the way this film was put together and came to fruition.
Some people don’t like Tony Gilroy films because he doesn’t lead the story with obviousness. The script for Beirut is the same way. However, I like his films (the Bourne films, Duplicity, Michael Clayton to name a few) for this very reason. Viewers go on a ride and must trust the storyteller and director to bring the film home satisfyingly.
In this film, there are two different time periods. The first one is the 1970’s and Beirut is a melting pot of people and religions. It opens with Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) hosting a party in his Beirut home. As part of the US Government, there is a senator and other diplomats present. A young boy named Karim has been partially adopted by Mason and his wife.
Government agents come to collect Karim because his notorious radical brother Jassim/Rami (Ben Affan) is loose and they hope to use Karim to capture him. In the battle, Government plan goes bad, Mason’s wife is killed, and Karim is taken by Islamic radicals. The film then moves forward ten years.
Mason is a drunk, back in the United States, and mediating union/management negotiations. Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike) comes to collect Mason because Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino) has been abducted by a Islamic group and there’s been a request for Mason to negotiate his release.
Mason reluctantly goes back to Beirut and the flood of feelings come back from his time there some ten years earlier.
The negotiations are tough and there are many people, even in the US Government, who have different agendas with this issue. In essence, it is now Karim (Idir Chender) who is negotiating for his brother’s release and they're using Cal as the bait.
The way the films shows the 70’s was perfect. I loved the detail used. Everything from the hair styles to the sideburns on Mason. The film quality also reflected the time, with the tint and style. I loved the way the audience falls into the story and isn’t given large hints or steps that telegraph the film’s direction.
Hamm was fantastic. His portrayal of the caring loving husband and then to the drunk who cares and doesn’t care is phenomenal. Affan was strong in this minimal role. Chender was excellent as the older version of Karim. Pellegrino was very strong as the kidnapped US Government service representative. Pike was excellent as the tough, thoughtful, and daringly intelligent agent. Tony Gilroy wrote an outstanding script. I loved how it slowly comes together in the end. Brad Anderson did a wonderful job of making this script come alive.
Overall: This was an excellent film and expressed the complications of the middle east quite well.