Released: April 11
Cast: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham
Director: Brad Anderson (The Machinist)
Why it’s great: This is a film made by seasoned professionals. Anderson is a big screen and TV veteran, and the movie’s screenwriter, Tony Gilroy, was responsible for Michael Clayton and the best entries in the Bourne series. The script for the 1980s-set Beirut, which follows a former US diplomat (Hamm) as he gets pulled back to Lebanon by shady intelligence officials to handle a tense hostage situation, was actually written in the early ’90s and sat on the shelf for ages. (If it feels like a vintage Blockbuster rental, that’s why.) The film’s politics are often glib and reductive — it doesn’t have a keen interest in the Lebanese people or the history of the region — but, if you like spycraft stories in the vein of John le Carré’s work, this is a briskly paced, occasionally clever thriller featuring a winning performance from Hamm, who has struggled to find the right star vehicle since the end of Mad Men. His character is a familiar type: a wounded, hard-drinking negotiator who can talk himself out of any situation. He’s only slightly less morally compromised than the CIA sharks he swims with. The pleasure comes from hearing Hamm turn Gilroy’s cynical, punchy dialogue into a sales pitch.
Where to see it right now: Rent on iTunes, Amazon Video, VUDU, and YouTube (watch the trailer)