Surprisingly suspenseful and entertaining, BEIRUT is a smart thriller loaded with talent.
Jon Hamm is a CIA operative in 1982 Beirut, stuck in the middle of an exploding and seemingly endless civil war.
He and his wife have carved out a fairly normal life, a beautiful home and good friends.
When a person close to them suddenly becomes a political liability with questionable ties, their world explodes and sudden violence brings tragedy.
The film then jumps years ahead, with Mason (Hamm) being pulled back into a high level government operation in Beirut.
Drunk, beaten down and uninterested, Mason is faced with a present day dilemna only he can fix to save the life of a friend.
Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day) is excellent as Sandy, a straight shooting CIA agent with compassion for Mason, but unyielding focus on the mission.
Mark Pelligrino (The Big Lebowski) is also good as Mason's friend in peril and Larry Pine (The Royal Tennenbaums) is slippery as hell as a key figure in the ever shifting Middle East landscape.
Writer Tony Gilroy (Nightcrawler, Rogue One) is terrific, serving up a complicated story that's intelligent, fast moving and unpredictable. Gilroy seems to specialize in damaged characters. Like his Louis Bloom character in "Nightcrawler", so brilliantly acted by Jake Gyllenhall, Hamm's Mason Skiles is a dark figure without the basic self preservation most humans share. Watching where he takes Mason and how well Hamm captures the spiral downward is a hell of a show.
Director Brad Anderson did a dozen episodes of "Fringe" one of my fave TV shows of the last decade. He knows how to stage conversations in dark alleys just as aptly as he presents large scale mayhem. He's one to watch.
Beirut made very little noise in theatres, but it deserves plenty of eyes. If you like Spielberg's "Munich" or Hitchcock's "Topaz" you're going to love BEIRUT.
It gets an A.