‘Beirut’ Review: Jon Hamm’s Terrific in This Intense Thriller

Set in Beirut in 1972, Bleecker Street’s Beirut stars Jon Hamm as a smooth-talking American diplomat named Mason Skiles. He’s adept at hosting dignitaries and assorted movers and shakers in Beirut, slipping easily in and out of conversations as he circulates and puts his party guests at ease. The ritzy cocktail party at his villa suddenly becomes the fodder of his nightmares as all he holds dear is ripped from him in one terrifying moment.

Fast-forward 10 years and Mason has left the world of diplomats and international politics behind and has returned to the United States. He’s found solace at the bottom of far too many bottles and spends his days toiling away arbitrating labor disputes. Life basically sucks, but at least he’s not in the Middle East where he would be constantly reminded of the traumatic events that caused him to flee Lebanon.

Unfortunately, Mason’s forced into confronting the events that sent his life spiraling out of control. A decade after leaving Beirut, Mason’s skills are required to handle the delicate negotiations for the release of captured CIA agent Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino). Cal is a friend of Mason’s and someone who played a pivotal role in the devastating events in 1972 that sent Mason off the deep end.

Director Brad Anderson’s action thriller Beirut takes a good 20 minutes or so to find its footing, but once it does it becomes a riveting edge-of-your-seat thriller. Jon Hamm charms his way through the rough beginning, ultimately perfectly capturing the role of an American diplomat forced into facing his inner demons.

Hamm delivers one of his finest performances in this gritty and complex spy tale written by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton). Rosamund Pike co-stars as the C.I.A. agent charged with handling Mason’s participation in the tricky negotiations. Hamm and Pike work well together and in fact it’s an on-screen partnership that leaves the audience hoping for multiple sequels. Also working in the film’s favor is a first-rate supporting cast that includes Mark Pellegrino, Dean Norris, and Shea Whigham.

Beirut captures the ‘70s and ‘80s well, and actually feels surprisingly timely and relevant. It’s the sort of film we don’t often see anymore, a captivating thriller filled with complex, flawed, and relatable characters.


Release Date: April 11, 2018

MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and a brief nude image

Running Time: 109 minutes

Directed By: Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transibberian)

Beirut Starring Jon Hamm Review
Jon Hamm stars as Mason Skiles in director Brad Anderson’s ‘Beirut,’ a Bleecker Street release.