The Beckett ending may leave some Netflix streamers with unanswered questions. This article contains major spoilers for Ferdinando Cito Filomarino’s 2021 movie, along with analysis about the subtext and climax.
In Beckett, a trip to Athens goes horribly wrong for an American couple. The title character (John David Washington) and his wife April (Alicia Vikander) leave their rental near Syntagma Square due to protests involving a newly elected, left-wing politician named Karras (Yorgos Pirpassopoulos), whose son Dimos (Filippos Ioannidis) has been kidnapped. In a convenient narrative twist, Beckett spots the missing boy directly after a late-night car crash that results in April’s death. Washington’s protagonist seeks help from the Athens police but flees after Officer Xenakis (Panos Koronis) and his colleague (Lena Kitsopoulou) try to kill him. Beckett eventually reaches the U.S. Embassy in Athens, only to discover that a consulate named Tynan (Boyd Holbrook) has bad intentions. Incidentally, Washington’s character tracks down two left-wing activists named Lena (Vicky Krieps) and Elina (Maria Votti), both of whom previously offered help and educated him about Sunrise — a far-right ultranationalist group with police on the payroll. Here’s my interpretation of the Beckett ending, specifically the final 30 minutes.
Beckett Ending: Summary, Subtext and Analysis
Personally, I can relate to Beckett’s panic while trying to understand Athens’ political climate. In June 2012, I visited the Greek city with a female American whom I’d previously met in Italy two months prior. We stayed at a hostel just blocks from Omonia Station and watched a couple people get robbed at night. The following morning, three locals (who seemed to be teenagers) attacked, robbed and knifed me down the street from Omonia Station. Even at six in the morning, chaos had already erupted in the streets. Blood flowed from my arm, another guy got robbed and an older man told me to leave quick. After visiting the U.S. Embassy, I discovered just how dangerous Omonia Square had been at this particular moment in time. A consulate informed me about the specifics, and I left with a new passport within 90 minutes. In Beckett, Washington’s character also gets knifed at Omonia Square (specifically at Omonia Station) and then looks for help at the U.S. Embassy.
Beckett attempts to confuse audiences with chases and physical confrontations, but the subtext emerges rather quickly. The introductory title art includes images of a young boy, who later appears on missing posters. Beckett then spots the kidnapped youth after the car accident. Later, the activists tell him that Sunrise opposes Karras, and has corrupted the police force. So, Tynan’s final revelation about the bigger picture may not feel that impactful to Netflix streamers, as it becomes progressively clear during the 108-minute runtime that authorities have an agenda to protect. The biggest takeaway, it seems, is that the police don’t target Beckett because of his race or nationality, but rather because of a simple twist of fate. In the first act, Washington’s protagonist crashes his vehicle into an abandoned home, which just so happens to be where Sunrise hides Karras’ son. And just like that, the authorities have their fall man, with the irony being that Beckett visited the crash site to kill himself using April’s prescription pills. The experience gives him a new purpose in life.
Vikander’s doomed character mostly exists to benefit the conspiracy narrative rather than Beckett’s character arc. Filomarino’s Netflix movie includes psychological elements, but it’s more of a paranoid thriller than a traditional psychological thriller. Washington has two notable breakdown moments in Beckett (car ride, embassy bathroom), which add some emotional depth but may feel heavy-handed to viewers who aren’t necessarily impressed with the performance as a whole. Overall, the protagonist huffs and puffs from scene to scene, which isn’t a script issue but rather evidence of poor acting. Washington likes to constantly growl in this particular role as a way to convey the obvious. He does the same thing in the 2021 movie Malcolm & Marie, just with a slight variation. For this viewer, perhaps all the growling distracted from the emotional authenticity of key mid-movie moments. Beckett is certainly worth a second look.
The Beckett ending heavily implies that Washington’s character simply doesn’t have time to properly grieve. He seeks clarity and justice, along with revenge on Tynan, Xenakis and the unnamed female police officer. By the end, the left-wing activists ultimately triumph over the far-right group Sunrise, with the final image of Washington’s bloody and teary-character implying that he’s now a broken man — “I should have died.” Moving forward, there’s potential for Beckett 2, as the protagonist could leave behind his life as a business systems integration expert and transform into a vigilante, a la Denzel Washington’s antihero in The Equalizer franchise. (For those who don’t know, John David Washington is Denzel’s son.) Based on audience and critic reactions to Beckett, though, it doesn’t seem like a sequel will happen. Personally, I’d be more interested in a four-part Netflix docuseries about Americans who find trouble while traveling. Be careful when visiting Athens’ Omonia Square.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.