Joseph Kato Lusse,
Guest Writer @ writething.net
BEASTS OF NO NATION REVIEW
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS so if you haven’t seen the film, check it out before reading.
In an already highly saturated genre, Cary Joji Fukunaga has managed to outshine his impressive work in True Detective. Beasts of no nation is a film adaptation of the 2005 novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala, starring Thor’s Idris Elba as a battalion commander aptly named commandant and his latest recruit, Abraham Attah as Agu. The film is a war drama showcasing the day to day operations of a child soldier battalion that easily takes its place among such famed African war dramas such as tears of the sun and hotel Rwanda. The story is narrated by Attah’s character Agu, as he is separated from his family and watches the death of all those he loves at the hands of those meant to protect them. There are no bad guys here, only people reacting to situations in the best way they can, as even the murder of Attah’s family is committed under the impression that they are ‘rebels,’ in what can only be described as, for lack of a better phrase African military justice, if such a thing exists.
This is not meant to be entertainment, although you will be kept on the edge of your seat. Fukunaga audaciously tells the unfortunately true story of child soldiers fighting in one of the most hostile war environments known to man. The atrocities committed by real life child soldiers are horrific, for instance the lip and hand chopping of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and the film is a testament to this. It is brutal and not for the faint hearted, but ultimately the viewer ends up rooting for Agu’s struggle to preserve the remnants of his humanity.
Violence aside, this film hits home, atleast for myself, because it shows how centuries of warfare in Africa have culminated in the use of children as the first line of infantry in military conflict, a key theme here being their susceptibility to haranguing and psychological manipulation. The viewer comes face to face with a sublime narrative in the evolution of a prepubescent boy from child to cold blooded killer.
Elba finds himself struggling to hold his own against new comer Abraham Attah in their shared scenes and it is easy to see why the film won the Marcello Mastroianni Award.
In sum, Fukunaga’s endeavor pays off, and beasts of no nation offers viewers a realistic and interesting insight into the lives of child soldiers fighting in Africa’s conflicts. Overall, 8.7/10.