Beckett ending explained: What is the political conspiracy in Beckett?

BECKETT (2021) Alicia Vikander as April and John David Washington as Beckett. Cr: Yannis Drakoulidis/NETFLIX
BECKETT (2021) Alicia Vikander as April and John David Washington as Beckett. Cr: Yannis Drakoulidis/NETFLIX /

Beckett uses its screen time in mysterious ways. For an action thriller, there’s astoundingly few thrills. Although the movie follows a chase of life or death, the action is few and far between.

Much of the screen time is watching the titular character limp, struggle, hide, and ask “do you speak English?”, without enough subtext to keep the audience interested.

It might be more accurate to label Beckett as an artistic take on life after loss, rather than an action-packed thriller, like Netflix advertises. More than anything else, the film beautifully showcases an array of landscapes and architecture in Greece.

Read ahead to hear what happens in the movie and its ending explained. Spoilers ahead!

What happens in Beckett?

The first 10 minutes show the romantic intimacy between Beckett (John David Washington) and April (Alicia Vikander). While on their private romantic vacation, she draws a little heart in pen on her boyfriend’s palm.

Then there’s an accident. Beckett falls asleep at the wheel, causing the car to plummet off a cliff and crash into a house. Dazed, Beckett crawls his way out of the vehicle to where April’s body had been thrown through the windshield. She’s bleeding. As Beckett drops into unconsciousness, he sees a young red-haired boy in the house with them…

He wakes up in the hospital to his arm in a cast and April confirmed dead. Local Greek police interview him and take intrigue when Beckett mentions that there was someone in the house. “No one’s lived there in years,” the main officer says.

Beckett limps his way to the ruins of the house, finding nothing but rubble and a red stain where April had bled. He breaks down and contemplates suicide with the pills he’d been prescribed. Before he can make that decision, a woman fires shots at him, soon followed by the first officer driving up in a black car. Despite his promise that it was a mistake, the officers fire again, forcing him flee on foot up the mountain.

After a death-defying jump into a tree, Beckett has escaped immediate capture and takes refuge in an abandoned construction vehicle. Found the next day by civilians, he has little time to recover and is soon on the run again.

The real horror of the movie is that Beckett makes every sensible move, and every time something goes wrong.

He is able to contact the U.S. Embassy through a bystander’s phone and relays his situation. Unsurprisingly, they can’t do anything immediate, so Beckett makes his way to a train station, but has been tracked. He escapes the main police officer once again, leaving the officer shot in the foot. The embassy is again unhelpful. Beckett turns to the street and sees a poster of the boy he saw in the house.

After 50 minutes long minutes of movie, Beckett has a lead. He follows the women putting up the signs, and they explain the situation: the little boy is Dimos Karras, the nephew of a famous politician. Dimos has been kidnapped. The women believe Beckett about having seen the boy, and that the police are involved, so they smuggle him out of the city towards Athens.

Lena and Eleni explain more: A group called Sunrise, far-right ultranationalists, are most likely behind the kidnapping, and have deep connections within the police. The women are on their way to a rally for the politician Karras, who promises to reverse the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the European Union. For those who don’t keep up with foreign politics (myself included), this refers to limiting spending and raising taxes to lower the country’s debt.

Beckett is forced to leave the two where the police have imposed a traffic stop. He makes it to another bus, this time getting off unharmed, only to be stabbed in another assassination attempt. He escapes yet again, this time making it into the U.S. Embassy, and is turned over to Stephen Tynan. It turns out April’s body had also been sent to the embassy, and so he is able to see her. Tynan tells a new truth: It’s not Sunrise that is after him. A group called the Communist Brigade claimed responsibility over the kidnapping, and that to clear his name they have to trust in a local Greek cop.

On the way to the supposed “good” police station, Beckett sees just in time that Tynan is about to pull a taser on him. Again he’s forced to defend himself, and escapes from the crooked embassy representative. Beckett meets up with the Karras activists and explains that the trouble he’s in runs deeper, but the agents are already hot on his tail.

Tynan chases Beckett through the streets of Athens including the rally, finally coming to a rest in the basement of an abandoned mall. The agent gets a call that Karras has been assassinated, which gives Beckett the opportunity to gain the upper hand.

Beckett was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was going to uncover the kidnappers responsible and interfere. He’s told he’s free now to go home, since the assassination took place as planned. Beckett pockets Tynan’s gun and returns to a world of rioting and violence in the wake of Karras’ public execution.

Beckett enters the fray through the smoke and tails the female shooter that had been chasing him along with the main cop, Lena following loosely behind. He attacks the female shooter and male cop in their car (a kill before be killed scenario) and hears the boy in the trunk of their car during the confrontation. The cop drives off with the boy, the female shooter is dead, and Beckett limps after the car, leaving Lena in desperate confusion. He jumps from the parking garage onto the targeted car, finally apprehending the assassin and saving Dimos Karras.

The movie ends with Beckett seeing the heart on his palm that April had drawn just days before. He laments to Lena, “I should have died”.

What is the political conspiracy in Beckett?

When Beckett has Tynan pinned down in the basement of the mall, the U.S. Embassy ambassador explains the following:

"“Karras’ family’s got a ton of shipping money. He wanted more, got involved with crooks, and he owes them. They want their money back. The rest is classified.”   — Stephen Tynan“So taking Dimos wasn’t political then. Just criminals Karras owed, that’s what you’re telling me? So this is all just Mafia bu*****t?!”  — Beckett"

Really, this movie isn’t about a political conspiracy at all. It just happens to be the reason Beckett has to fight for his life.

Beckett ending explained

The movie ends with Beckett having won the fight, dispatching the bad guys and saving the kidnapped boy. However, he gains more than that: the realization that he can live on without April. Having survived through an event much bigger than himself, he finds meaning in existing again. Although he believed he should have died instead of April, Beckett was able to take that opportunity to save someone else. If he had died, Dimos would have likely also died.

The events post-movie are unknown. Athens is in turmoil over a public execution and political dissonance. We can hope that Dimos will be returned to the family he has, but what will happen to Beckett?

Although he will still be distraught over the loss of April, he sees the heart on his palm, knowing she’ll always be with him. In the wake of his girlfriend’s absence, he contemplates suicide, then fights tooth and nail to keep his own life. By the end of the film, Beckett is putting himself in harm’s way to help a boy he doesn’t know, because it’s all he can do.

Beckett can choose whatever path he wants to now. He can return to Ohio, hoping that the legitimate crimes he committed in self defense don’t follow him home. He could bond with April’s parents over their shared loss, or he could forgo his old life entirely and start anew in Greece as an activist. While many bridges are broken, new paths open to him at the end of the movie. We can only cross our fingers that his life will be easier from here on out, and that he can take time for his arm to heal.

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