ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – B – Backstabbing for Beginners (2018) Movie Review

Director: Per Fly

Writer: Per Fly, Daniel Pyne (Screenplay) Michael Soussan (Book)

Starring: Theo James, Ben Kingsley, Belcim Bilgin, Jacqueline Bisset, Peshang Rad, Daniela Lavender, Rachel Wilson

Plot: A young program coordinator at the United Nations stumbles upon a conspiracy involving Iraq’s oil reserves.


Tagline – If You Dig Too Deep, You May Not Like What Comes Up

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Political 101

Story: Backstabbing for Beginners starts as a young programmer Michael Sullivan (James) takes a role in the food for oil system working under Pasha (Kingsley), once in Bagdad, he learns of the bigger picture going on, seeing the problems the field office of the UN would have.

Michael working with translator Nashim Hussani (Bilgin) to try and exposure the truth, the truth however brings fresh dangers that make this a bigger life or death situation filled with greed.

Thoughts on Backstabbing for Beginners

Characters – Michael Sullivan takes a career change, he steps up to become a member of a UN representative company involving in trading oil for food, here he works under experienced dealer and must learn the reality of the world he has entered, filled with corruption, one he wants to try and expose after falling in love. Pasha is the mentor to Michael, he walks him into the world, shows him how to play the system, even if he is using the system to get everything he wants. Nashim is a Kurdish woman with no home country, she is trying to get close to find someone who will expose the truth to give her people home.

PerformancesTheo James does step up from the young adult films where he had struggle to make a true impact, his mature performance shows his skills on a new level. Ben Kingsley is as always great to watch in any film, with this being no different. Belcim Bilgin is also great to watch through the film, showing how desperate to help her people in the film.

StoryThe story here follows Michael Sullivan a young man that takes a job working for a UN company, only to learn the truth about what is going on with the corruption within the UN and is left to decide whether to expose the corruption within the group or continue to let in run. This is the typical political thriller, which is based on the true story, even though you would expect to see most of the true details would still be undercover. It does play out just like you would expect, with it being almost like a game between mentor and student, which will go the way you would expect.

RomanceThe romance comes from seeing how Michael finds love with a translator who will be key to help him make up his decision.

SettingsThe film uses the Bagdad settings to show how the dealings could take place, with danger in each corner.


Scene of the Movie – The inspection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too many secrets left unanswered.

Final Thoughts This is the a by the book political thriller that does show just how corrupt the UN has become.

Overall: By the Book.

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