Beasts of No Nation


Action / Drama / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 91% · 150 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 92% · 5K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.7/10 10 86321 86.3K

Top cast

Idris Elba as Commandant
Jude Akuwudike as Supreme Commander Dada Goodblood
Kurt Egyiawan as 2nd I-C
Richard Pepple as Father Friday
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.16 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 17 min
Seeds 20
2.33 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 17 min
Seeds 19

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by evanston_dad 8 / 10

I Feel Almost Obligated to Watch Films Like This

I've heard more than one person say that they can't watch a movie like "Beasts of No Nation." It's a sentiment I understand. After all, who really wants to watch a movie about child soldiers recruited to become killers in savage African civil wars? But these things are happening, and the bare minimum I can if I want to respect myself as a citizen of the world is to watch movies about it, and fictional ones at that. This isn't even a documentary.

And if people can get past the premise, they will find themselves watching a gripping film. A tough one, yes, and one that might make your stomach churn. But it's extremely well made, with excellent performances from child actor Abraham Attah and Idris Elba, as the child protagonist and the leader who recruits him, respectively. This young child experiences a multitude of things, any one of which would permanently scar virtually anyone. And the film doesn't offer a contrived happy-ish ending to reward us for sitting through the suffering, which is one of the things I most appreciated about it. Because let's be honest; is there even a remote chance that stories like the one told here could end happily?

In this year of bickering about the whiteness of the Oscars, this film and its lack of nominations being held up repeatedly as an example, I can at least feel like I did my part -- you don't get much further away from white Hollywood and the stories it likes to tell than this film.

Grade: A-

Reviewed by classicsoncall 8 / 10

"If this war is ever ending, I cannot be going back to doing child things".

Definitely not a film for the timid or sensitive. College campuses airing the film will require safe zones. The film would have had more poignancy I believe, if it were actually based on a true story, though I have no doubt the atrocities shown in the film are representative of warring factions in opposition to each other in various places on the planet. The inhumanity and barbarism that one group of people can inflict on another convinces me that there is no possibility for the cherished 'peace on earth' that many of us dream and pray for.

For an independent film this picture features exceptional cinematography and outstanding performances. It's probably a toss up as to who delivered the stronger portrayal, Idris Elba as the Commandant or Abraham Atta as the child soldier Agu. Principally told through the thoughtful narrative of Agu, the viewer agonizes along with him as his band of mercenaries terrorizes opposition forces and grow disillusioned over a never ending mission. The hopelessness of their cause is best expressed through the dying words of Two I-C - "This was all for nothing".

There is value in watching films like this so one does not grow complacent in a world that can often be brutal and discouraging. However the film offers only the slightest of consolation for it's principal protagonist Agu, who detachedly relates his story as a child exposed to unimaginable horrors. The challenge he issues to the viewer is to hear his story without imagining him a beast or a devil, as the circumstances of his life have unintentionally trapped him in that corner.

Reviewed by ferguson-6 8 / 10

Not like a baby, like an old man

Greetings again from the darkness. Cary Joji Fukunaga has quickly established himself as an expert storyteller with his previous writing and directing of SIN NOMBRE (2009), JANE EYRE (2011) and the fascinating and conversation-sparking first season of "True Detective" (he did not direct the much-maligned Season Two). He goes even deeper and darker this time by adapting Uzodinma Iweala's novel about a child soldier.

When first we meet Agu, he is but an enterprising and fun-loving kid who thrives on mischief such as trying to sell "Imagination TV" – the empty shell of a console TV, complete with Agu and his buddies acting out scenes for those who peer through the picture tube opening. Agu describes himself as "a good boy from a good family", and we believe him.

Somewhere in Africa is all we know about the location, and soon enough Agu's village is under siege and he is separated from his mother, and forced to stay behind with the men – including his father and big brother. More terror forces Agu alone into the forest until he is brought into a mostly young group of rebel forces led by the Commandant (Idris Elba). It's around this time that Agu begins "talking" to God through voice over narration that allows viewers to understand what's going on inside Agu's head – often quite contrary to what is happening on the outside as he transforms from mischievous kid to dead-eyed child soldier. When Agu stops speaking to God, we understand that he believes he no longer deserves to be heard, but his words to the universe (directed to his mother) let us know, this boy has not yet lost his soul.

Though we never understand the war, or even who is fighting whom, this uncertainty is designed to help us better relate to Agu. He may be a tough-minded soldier, but we also never forget that he is mostly a little boy hoping to re-connect with his mother. Idris Elba plays the Commandant as part father-figure, part war lord, and part cult leader. He is a menacing presence one moment and a soothing voice of reason the next. When we (and Agu) learn the full story of his multiple sides, we are both sickened and disheartened. It's the performances of both Elba and newcomer Abraham Attah (as Agu) that make this such a devastating and fascinating movie to watch, and it's the filmmaking of Fukunaga that keeps our eyes glued to the screen when we would just as soon turn away.

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