Beirut (film)

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Beirut
Beirut (film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrad Anderson
Produced by
Written byTony Gilroy
Starring
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyBjörn Charpentier
Edited byAndrew Hafitz
Production
companies
Distributed byBleecker Street
Release date
  • January 22, 2018 (2018-01-22) (Sundance)
  • April 11, 2018 (2018-04-11) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$7.3 million[1]

Beirut, also known as The Negotiator (UK),[2] is a 2018 American espionage thriller film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Tony Gilroy. Set in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War, the film stars Jon Hamm as a former U.S. diplomat who returns to service in the titular city of Beirut in order to save a colleague from the group responsible for the death of his family. Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, Larry Pine and Mark Pellegrino also star. Principal photography began in Morocco in June 2016.[3][4]

The film premiered on January 22, 2018, at the Sundance Film Festival and was released in the United States on April 11, 2018. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who called it "absorbing despite its flaws" and praised Hamm's and Pike's performances.[5]

Plot[edit]

In 1972, Mason Skiles is a U.S. diplomat in Lebanon living in Beirut with his Lebanese wife, Nadia. They have recently begun caring for Karim, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who claims he is without a family. While hosting a party, Skiles is confronted by his friend, CIA officer Cal Riley, who wishes to question Karim, whose brother has been linked to the 1972 Munich massacre. The party is attacked by Karim's brother, Rami, who abducts Karim; in the ensuing gunfight, Nadia is killed.

Ten years later, Skiles has become an alcoholic and is working as a self-employed labor arbitrator in New England. While arbitrating a labor issue between particularly intransigent parties and struggling to keep his small firm afloat, he is approached by Sully, an old client, on behalf of the U.S. government. Sully discloses that Skiles has been requested for an academic lecture in Lebanon, and hands him money, a plane ticket, and a passport. Skiles is initially resistant but decides to travel to Beirut. He meets several government officials, including Donald Gaines, Colonel Gary Ruzak, and Frank Shalen, along with CIA officer Sandy Crowder, and learns that Cal Riley was recently abducted in Lebanon. The kidnappers have specifically requested Skiles as the negotiator.

The group meets with the kidnappers and find Karim heading the organization. Karim demands the release of his brother in exchange for Riley, despite the Americans' protest that they do not have Rafid in captivity. Skiles suspects that Israel is holding Rafid, and travels with Ruzak to secure his release. The Israelis reveal that they do not have Rafid, and Skiles returns to Beirut to meet with Alice, Riley's wife. Alice holds Skiles responsible for Riley's abduction, believing that Riley has remained in Lebanon over the guilt he feels for Nadia's death.

The next day, while Skiles is conducting the lecture at the American University of Beirut (the official reason for his visit), a car bomb is set off outside the building. In the ensuing chaos, Skiles is instructed to leave to meet Karim. Karim brings him to Riley, who covertly tells Skiles that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is holding Rafid and that Gaines is not to be trusted. Before releasing Skiles, Karim threatens that unless Rafid is returned later that night, he will sell Riley to Iran. Skiles returns to Riley's apartment to search for clues, where he encounters Crowder. She reveals that Gaines had been stealing money from the embassy and that Riley had been preparing to make a report shortly before his disappearance. Skiles convinces Crowder that the PLO is holding Rafid, and she steals $4 million from the CIA office to trade for Rafid.

After Skiles attacks a PLO officer, he sets up a trade for Rafid and brings him to the exchange with Karim. After trading Riley for Rafid, Rafid is shot and killed by a Mossad sniper in a nearby building. The Americans successfully escape. The Mossad sniper is actually Bernard who originally met Skiles when he arrived to Beirut. Bernard meets Sabrina, the mistress, who is also an Israeli agent, and leaves on a helicopter. M. Before departing Beirut, Skiles learns that Gaines has unexpectedly retired and that Ruzak has left Beirut. Crowder announces her intention to apply for the newly vacant jobs, and Skiles offers his services as a negotiator.

As the film ends, news footage is shown of the subsequent Israeli invasion of Lebanon, increasing international involvement in the country, and, finally, the bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine Corps' barracks in Beirut in 1983.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In May 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that Jon Hamm had signed on to star.[6] In July 2015, Rosamund Pike joined the cast.[7] In May 2016, ShivHans Pictures came on board to produce and finance the film. Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, Larry Pine and Mark Pellegrino joined the cast.[3] Filming began in Tangier, Morocco in June 2016.[3][8]

Release[edit]

Bleecker Street acquired the U.S. distribution rights in July 2017.[9] The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in January 2018.[10] It was theatrically released in the United States on April 11, 2018.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of June 27, 2018, Beirut had grossed $5 million in the United States and Canada, and $1.8 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $6.8 million.[1]

Playing in 755 theaters, the film made $1.7 million in its opening weekend (a total of $2 million over its first five days), finishing 13th at the box office.[11] In its second weekend, the film made $1.1 million (a drop of 39%) and finished 17th.[12]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% based on 118 reviews, and an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Beirut tells a complex, tightly plotted tale of international intrigue, further elevated by strong central performances from Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

Dennis Harvey of Variety called the film an "agreeably old-school form of cinematic espionage intrigue."[15] John DeFore, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, characterized it as a "period political thriller whose motivations remain timely."[16] The Financial Times' Damon Wise wrote that "Beirut proves surprisingly sensitive in its handling of the Middle East, mapping out an area of nuanced power struggle rather than a cartoon Casablanca-style warzone."[17] Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com said that "this is Hamm’s best leading role to date, a reminder of how good he can be when he’s given the right material."[18]

Trailer criticism[edit]

The film's trailer received criticism from social media users for dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims, having a white savior narrative, ignoring political complexities of the Lebanese Civil War, and failing to show Lebanese people as fully formed characters.[19][20] The trailer's closing tagline of "2,000 years of revenge, vendetta, murder... welcome to Beirut" has been criticized as a confusing misrepresentation of the history of Beirut.[21][22]

The trailer was criticized by Sopan Deb in the New York Times. He called it offensive, portraying a stereotypical image of Lebanese, Arabs and the Middle East at large. He points out that no Lebanese actors are featured in the film, and cites a social media hashtag, #BoycottBeirutMovie, as evidence of the trailer's reception in Lebanon.[19]

Walaa Chahine, writing for the Huffington Post, echoed similar criticisms, arguing that the trailer "seems to follow the same rhetoric so many other Middle East thrillers like to portray - Arabs are barbaric and uncivilized, and their countries are a mess".[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Beirut (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "THE NEGOTIATOR (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Hipes, Patrick (May 4, 2016). "Jon Hamm-Rosamund Pike Pic 'High Wire Act' Moves Forward With ShivHans Financing & Cast – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Norris, Dean [@deanjnorris] (June 27, 2016). "Playing this guy. Political thriller set in 1982 Beirut" (Tweet). Retrieved April 9, 2018 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Giles, Jeff (April 12, 2018). "Rampage Is Exactly What You Think It Is". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  6. ^ Busch, Anita (May 6, 2015). "Jon Hamm Joins Tony Gilroy's 'High Wire Act'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Jaafar, Ali (July 20, 2015). "Rosamund Pike Joining Jon Hamm In Brad Anderson's 'High Wire Act'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Norris, Dean [@deanjnorris] (June 27, 2016). "Playing this guy. Political thriller set in 1982 Beirut" (Tweet). Retrieved April 9, 2018 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ "Bleecker Street Acquires High Wire Act". Bleecker Street. July 27, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  10. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  11. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 15, 2018). "The Rock Rebounds: 'Rampage' Shushes 'A Quiet Place' With $34M+ No. 1 Opening". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Busch, Anita; D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 22, 2018). "'A Quiet Place' Still Noisy With $21.7M As 'Rampage' Beats Chest, 'Super Trooper 2' Surprises – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "Beirut (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "Beirut Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  15. ^ Harvey, Dennis (January 24, 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Beirut'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  16. ^ DeFore, John (January 23, 2018). "'Beirut': Film Review | Sundance 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  17. ^ "Sundance: Beirut — a welcome shot of realpolitik". Financial Times. January 24, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Tallerico, Brian (April 11, 2018). "Beirut". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Deb, Sopan (January 30, 2018). "'Beirut' Trailer Was Supposed to Thrill. Instead It Offended". New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Chahine, Walaa (January 12, 2018). "The Trailer for Jon Hamm's New Film 'Beirut' Was Released Today and It Looks Like A Stereotypical, Inaccurate Mess". Huffington Post. Oath. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  21. ^ Lemon, Jason (January 13, 2018). "There's a new film called 'Beirut' and Lebanese are calling it 'trash'". StepFeed. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  22. ^ Kantara, Anthony B. (January 13, 2018). "Dear world, don't bother watching the Beirut movie!". The961. The961 Media. Retrieved January 14, 2018.

External links[edit]