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Jon Hamm is Mason Skiles, a former diplomat to Beirut. At the beginning of the film, we see him in 1972, at the height of his work, when gunmen storm the diplomatic house/headquarters, take a 13-year-old boy Palestinian boy who has become part of the family, and kill Mason’s wife. Fast forward 10 years and the story follows a somewhat familiar pattern: Mason has become an alcoholic who has relegated himself to small-time mediation jobs. One day, alcoholic Mason is given a ticket and passport to Lebanon under the guise of a “speaking engagement”; he is actually summoned to mediate the release of a man the Palestinians have taken hostage. Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike) is assigned to ensure his safety during the process. I have mixed feelings about the film. There are a couple of interesting plot twists that allow for more emotional connection to the film, and the acting by Hamm and Pike is very good. The character development for all but the two central characters is lacking, and I could not always follow exactly why they were important to the story. If the film was supposed to provide some context to the situation in the Middle East, it didn’t do this very effectively. I left feeling that important parts of the story were missing. In spite of this, I do give it a thumbs-up, since it was entertaining and suspenseful political espionage. This is a film that can wait for streaming.

About Gary Burkholder

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