Review: Beasts of No Nation (2015)


Netflix’s rise in the past few years has been rampant to say the least. Within the space of merely three years, they have produced some of the best TV Shows, not on TV, and so it was only a matter of time before they were going to branch out to producing feature films as well.

And so comes Beasts of No Nation, adapted from Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name, the film takes us to an unnamed West African country where a raging Civil War has torn the country apart and the film basically tracks the story of Agu, a young boy who is forced to join a group of guerilla soldiers, led by a fierce warlord (Idris Elba) in the wake of this turmoil.

beasts of no nation abraham attah review

Beasts of No Nation is in many ways a coming-of-age movie, but a truly horrifying one at that. The film is written, directed and shot by Cary Joji Fukanaga, who previously directed Sin Nombre and all eight episodes of the first season of True Detective, and he does a great job here, infusing the film with a visceral edge through sharp camerawork and eye-popping imagery; which can be both gorgeous and unsettling. The film is brutal and at times, truly hard to watch, especially in its depiction of war, but it’s also an immensely powerful that really hits hard.

At its center, the film has two incredible central performances from Abraham Attah and Idris Elba, Attah is particularly revelatory in his on-screen debut and watching him go from an innocent child to a gun-wielding guerilla soldier makes for a truly harrowing experience, and equally good if not more, is Idris Elba, who gives a complex and charismatic performance as a man referred to simply as, ‘The Commandant’, who happens to be the leader of this guerilla army.

beasts of no nation review

But despite being, for the most part a truly powerful experience, Beast of No Nation falters considerably in its third act and gets kinda frustrating, to be honest. The problem with the film is that it doesn’t really have any particular sub-plots and focuses on just this one story which eventually runs out of steam. The pay-off is weak and the film kinda lost loses its grip towards the latter half.

Despite this though, Beasts of No Nation is a very good film that is both gripping and devastating and packs an emotional punch unlike most films to come out this year.




19 responses to “Review: Beasts of No Nation (2015)

  1. Great review, Khalid. Finally someone who feels the same as me. I loved the first act and cinematography. The story reminds me of Full Metal Jacket meets Apocalypse Now. And I’m super happy so many more people are seeing this than normally would, because of Netflix distribution. The film definitely has an important message, but it loses steam, like you said.


    • Thanks Dan!
      And yeah, the cinematography and even the film’s stark depiction of war mirror that of both those movies, especially Apocalypse Now, but yeah, the the story just doesn’t have enough to carry it all the way through.
      Glad we agree on this 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I looked at the film’s indistinct narrative structure as a plus; there was no end to the destruction and horror that surrounded these kids. It’s a reflection of a most unsettling reality. That said, at 2 + hours it gets really grueling and I certainly understand where people have issues with it. Powerful performances make this a memorable movie, albeit one I’ll never return to. Good review


    • Thanks man, and I did too, but I thought the movie went soft with its conclusion. For a movie that was brutal and unsettling for a good 100 minutes, its resolution left me disappointed.


  3. This sounds pretty good even if it does run out of steam. I’ll have to check it out. Great review!
    Also, I was just reading the new James Bond opinion battle and I agree with Damien Lewis. Mostly because he’s a ginger and us gingers have to stick together. Who would oppose ginger hair?? Haha! But he’s a great actor and I think he would be a very charming James Bond. Great choice!


  4. Great review Khalid. I agree that the first act was by the far most superior one but I still think the last two acts had enough meat to them to be worthwhile. But pretty much agree with you on most points. A great debut from Netflix. A solid 8/10


  5. I LOVE Idris and it’s convenient that this film is on Netflix. But it sounds so brutal and tough to watch, that’s why I’ve been putting it off. I’ll watch it eventually though.


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