Q30 Entertainment Review: Beasts of No Nation

Photo courtesy of Netflix

By Vincent Guarino

Netflix has tremendously changed the film and television industry. A few years ago they introduced their own original programming, where they would release a full season of their original television series at once. The success of the first show House of Cards prompted them to make even more shows like last year’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  This has also given them the ability to bring back shows that were let go way too early, like Arrested Development.

Now Netflix is in the movie making business. Their first venture is a war drama called Beasts of No Nation. It is written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) and the biggest name in it is British actor, Idris Elba (The Wire). If Beasts of No Nation is a sign of what is to come from Netflix’s original films, they are about to change the film industry forever.

The film follows Agu, a young boy from an unnamed African country in the midst of a civil war. After being separated from his mother and witnessed his father murdered, Agu gets forced into joining a group of militants run by an evil warlord played by Idris Elba.

Beasts of No Nation is not an easy watch. There were multiple moments where I started to tear up because what I was watching was just so tragic. I won’t go into detail but if you are not good with blood or just heavy/upsetting situations, this might not be the movie for you. However, I urge everyone to try to watch the film. It gives the world a glimpse of the horrors of war, especially when children are being used as soldiers.

Idris Elba’s work as an actor has been criminally underrated in the main stream. Elba’s role in this film has once again proven that he is an actor everyone and their mother should be paying attention to. He truly transforms into a ruthless warlord. No makeup, no masks. He is just an actor putting on an accent and I was terrified of him.

The film’s main character, Agu, is played by first time Ghanaian actor, Abraham Attah. Great child actors are hard to come by, but Attah shines in this film. You have to credit Fukunaga for this casting choice. He found the 14-year old working as a street vendor on the streets of Ghana with no acting experience. It is incredible how someone who had never acted a day in his life was able to give such an incredible performance full of raw emotion and heartbreak.

I became aware of Cary Joji Fukunaga in 2014 when he directed the entire first season of HBO’s True Detective. Some of the sequences he directed that season made my jaw drop because it was unlike anything I had ever seen on television. With Beasts of No Nation Fukunaga shows off his skills even more because he is also the film’s director of photography. There is one scene where he plays around with the coloring and I cannot stop thinking about it.

Something I have noticed with Fukunaga’s work is that he really like to take his time. If you are not a fan of films that keep a slow pace, maybe this is not the movie for you. Personally, I don’t mind if something is slow, so I wasn’t totally bothered by its pace, but I would be lying if I told you I did not look at my watch one or two times.

Overall, Beasts of No Nation is a great movie that proves that Netflix is not one to mess with. They are here to stay in the movie making business and if they can keep pumping out more quality films like Beasts of No Nation, I will be one happy subscriber.


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