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Beirut  (DVD)

8/10

Stars: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, Larry Pine, Kate Fleetwood, Mark Pellegrino, Idir Chender, Yoav Sadian

Director: Brad Anderson

It's about time that Mad Men's Hamm found a film vehicle worthy of his talents and here it is. Director Anderson's grip never relaxes as we follow the career of diplomat Mason Skiles (Hamm), enjoying life at the US mission in Beirut, where he and his wife (Leila Bekhti) have taken local 13-year-old Karim (Sadian) under their wing.

Just as Mace hears that Karim is wanted by the CIA for questioning, there's a terrorist attack, Karim is whisked off by his 'most wanted' brother, and Mace's wife is killed.

Ten years later, Mace is a jaded small-time businessman in the States, when he receives a call from the authorities to return to Beirot, now a city where death lurks around every ruin.

Mace's old deputy Cal (Pellegrino) has been captured by an Islamist insurgent group and the hostage has requested his ex boss's skills to negotiate a release.

For once, the widescreen handheld camerawork plays to the film's advantage, increasing the edginess and permanent sense of danger, while, fuelled by suspenseful, tightly-edited 'set pieces', the rattling pace never drops.

The alcoholic, ever-sweating Mace, forever fighting to evade and outwit those about him, may be Hamm's best film work to date. The last reel stretches credibility a bit, but the film has built up sufficient goodwill for it not to matter too much.

David Quinlan

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Signature. Technicolor.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 28 Sep 2018