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From North by Northwest to The Fugitive, we love a good man-on-the-run story. However, with each passing generation, it seems that the man becomes less relatable. Jason Bourne, and more recently John Wick, with their near-superhuman survival skills, are incredible but hardly the average dude with a problem. 

Beckett, a new Netflix original movie, attempts a return to the story of a normal guy suffering an abnormal situation. In the moment Beckett (John David Washington) and his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander) are in a car accident while vacationing in politically unstable Greece, Beckett sees something he isn’t supposed to see. Injured, grieving, and unable to speak the language, Beckett finds himself hunted by people he thought he could trust. 

Except for a reckless willingness to jump from high places, Beckett doesn’t have any special abilities. Unlike Bourne and Wick, his bones break and he does best when he’s got a bottle of prescription anxiety medication in his pocket. He makes stupid decisions. He gets beat up. He’s afraid. 

My personal metrics for a good movie are that it has attractive people in exotic locations doing exciting things. Despite having all of those elements, Beckett isn’t quite everything one might want. Where Hitchcock would have found moments to infuse the movie with humor, this is a very serious story. Where the master of suspense would have kept things tight, there are long stretches where plot points we’ve already seen are talked through so we don’t miss anything. 

Speaking of plot, April’s tragic death has nothing to do with it. His burden of responsibility for the accident, however, is what drives Beckett to remain involved in the political conspiracy. The quest for redemption in a foreign land prevents him from taking the easy path. We all have regrets. And while we might never be on the run from assassins in a country where we don’t speak the language, in this world we still live as “foreigners and exiles” (I Peter 2:11).

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us,” the apostle Peter continues. Beckett’s other special ability is to do good, not just for his own sake. He’s challenged at every turn. But that’s what makes a story thrilling. 

Perfect redemption is forever out of his reach. Nothing he does will bring April back from the dead or clear his conscience. Peter has an answer for this later in the chapter, and it’s simple: “By his wounds we are healed.” Over the course of his journey Beckett takes a beating more than once, but for all his suffering and good works, just like us, he can’t heal himself. 

While Beckett isn’t a great man-on-the-run story and likely will be quickly forgotten, in the moment it can serve as a reminder of the eternal truths. (Netflix)


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