By Darlene Donloe
Beasts of No Nation (Netflix) is one of those movies that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater. It’s intense, disturbing, raw, violent, real, brutal, scary, jaw-dropping and, most of all, exceptional!
Shot on location in Ghana, the film is based on the experiences of Agu, a West African child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.
But the story starts we he was just a normal boy living a normal life with his family. However, his country is on the brink of civil war. Once the war hits his village, Agu’s family is separated. Agu stays with his father, who eventually gets killed in the war. Agu runs for his life into the jungle only to become entangled with a group of guerilla soldiers helmed by a vicious commandant, played by the always interesting and chameleonic Idris Elba, who is known for taking on a variety of roles. Agu is effectively played by Abraham Attah, whose face says so much more than any of the film’s dialogue.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and written by Fukunaga and Uzodinma Iweala, based on his novel of the same name, this film will make everyone sit up and take notice.
Agu is forced to become a man quickly in order to survive. He’s asked to do unspeakable things that pull at his heart, mind and soul. Agu is indoctrinated into the ranks as the Commandant trains him to cope with his pain through violence. He soon learns how to use a gun and becomes accustomed to the duties of a full-time soldier.
It’s heartbreaking to watch Agu try to traverse one harrowing, violent and atrocious experience after another.
Idris Elba as The Commandant in Beasts Of No Nation
“Who wants to fight? Who wants to fight?,” blares The Commandant as he prepares his warriors for battle.
There are several battles going on in this drama. There are several internal battles going on with all of the soldiers as well as the commandant. All of the battles whether real or inside someone’s head – can all be destructive.
Although it has a tough subject matter for a film, Beasts of No Nation is an important film and a worthy opponent.
Great and noteworthy performances by Elba and Attah, who is a star. The film is chock full of non-actors who were enlisted as extras. The result is one of the gutsiest films of the year with a stirring, emotive cast.
(l) Abraham Attah as Agu in Beasts Of No Nation
In the end, Beasts of No Nation is a heart-wrenching tale of a young boy's loss of goodness and the strength he must develop to survive.
Beasts of No Nation was the first title in Netflix’s initiative to push the boundaries of the theatrical initiative.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and written by Fukunaga and Uzodinma Iweala (based on the novel by)
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L Likable, O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent) Beasts Of No Nation gets an E (excellent).
Running time: 136 minutes.