In 1972, Beirut, Lebanon (one of the oldest civilizations in the world), a magnificent city referred to as the “Paris of the East”, lives U.S. diplomat “Mason Skiles” (Jon Hamm) his wife “Nadia” (Leila Bekhit) and their ward “Karim” (Yoav Sadian Rosenberg), a thirteen-year-old Palestinian refugee; into a benign, multi-cultural cocktail party, a terrorist group shatters, irrevocably, Mason’s harmonious lifestyle. Shadows of 1972’s Munich Olympics, slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian group, “Black September” is at the core of this thrilling, titillating film, directed by Brad Anderson.
1982, Mason, weathered, perpetually soused, is recruited back to the city of tortured memories to negotiate a hostage situation; his friend, CIA agent “Cal Riley” (Mark Pellegrino) has been kidnapped; Karim,(Idir Chender) twenty-three, threatens Cal’s death if his terrorist brother, is not found and released. Now commences, at times bordering on sensationalism, the yin and yang between American government operatives, the Israelis and the PLO; Mason’s handler “Sandy Crowder”, (Rosamund Pike) a cultural attaché, struggles to keep him sober and safe. Viewers are held captive until the gripping conclusion.
Cinematographer Bjorn Carpentier gifts atmospheric agony to “Beirut”, eye-stinging soot, war-ravaged streets, barefoot, parentless children plunder detritus from scavenged stores, domiciles; wretchedness, bequeathed elitism. Jon Hamm, moves with tarnished suaveness, even alcohol cannot dull his beleaguered handsomeness and savvy acuity; there is poetry in his performance; self-confidence daunts compromising situations.
2017’s, “The Insult”, a Lebanese film directed by Ziad Doueiri, spearheads the contentious landscape of today’s Beirut versus “Beirut’s” archival realism of the 1980’s; suffering soars and intensifies with each generation, camouflaging Lebanon’s remarkable, glorious history.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!