Beasts of No Nation Movie Review

beasts of no nation

Did you think all Netflix is good for is just streaming movies? Guess again. This Netflix original film proves they can be so much more.

Beasts of No Nation is about a young boy named Agu (Abraham Attah) in some African country torn apart by war.  After witnessing his whole family being executed by government forces, he gets recruited by a rebel leader (Idris Elba) to fight for him and get revenge for his family’s murder.  The movie follows him and the rest of this unit of child soldiers as they fight in this bloody war.

I have to say I absolutely loved about half this movie.  The first half is fantastic and I was really into it.  They start off with some solid character development to get you invested in the main character and his family.  It’s humorous, interesting, and gives a glimpse into the life of young boys in Africa.  It takes an even more interesting turn once the family is executed and Agu gets thrown into this war he doesn’t fully understand.  I knew I should hate Idris Elba’s character for recruiting these young boys to fight in the war. It’s something very despicable.  But I didn’t hate him for a lot of the movie.  He treats the boys as a family and you feel like he genuinely cares about them.  The movie humanizes him in such a way that it makes you feel weird because you empathize with him a bit.  I think a lot of the credit for that goes to Elba’s acting.  It’s great and he absolutely nails the accent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Oscar nomination for him.  But he isn’t the only one who deserves one.  This movie has one of the best child acting performances I’ve ever seen. I would not be surprised if the boy who played Agu has a big future ahead of him.  All of the other children in the movie also do a very good job. There are good action scenes and really good dramatic scenes, as well.

My problems with this movie start about halfway through.  The movie seems to lose its focus a bit and gets really confusing.  I feel like they tried to do a bit too much with the plot as the movie went on.  You do finally get moments where you start to see Idris Elba’s character for who he really is, a really bad guy.  That was definitely a good element.  But I found myself caring a lot less about what was happening for the last hour or so than I did for the first half.  The accents occasionally were difficult to understand. But I’m sure that is mostly about me being a dumb American who can’t understand anything else.  I can’t completely knock a movie set in Africa for its African accents.

All in all, Beasts of No Nation is definitely worth a watch.  It has some problems, particularly in the second half, but it is still a very good movie.  It makes me excited to see what else Netflix can come out with in the future in terms of original content.  I would go much higher if the second half was as good as the first, but with all things considered I’ll give Beasts of No Nation a 3.5/5.

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