Movie review: Beasts of no nation


Beasts of No Nation is a hard movie to watch, yet an unforgettable war story told through the eyes of a boy, Agu (Abraham Attah) in an unnamed West African country.

In this movie, Idris Elba delivers a powerhouse of a performance, a chilling and magnetic piece as a warlord of a rebel army who trains child soldiers that have escaped a civil war.

Beasts of No Nation depicts the brutal life of child soldiers.

Agu’s peaceful life is shattered when a civil war breaks out in his village, it’s a horrid massacre that leaves his father and brother killed in the streets, while his mother and little sister escape to the city.

Agu’s penchant for malice never went beyond pranks directed at his older brother, but the line between innocence and evil is tested when the commandant (Idris Elba) hands him a machete and orders him to kill a civilian thought to be an enemy.

Just a pre-adolescent boy, Agu is numbed by the horrors he sees, the atrocities he has to commit for a cause that he does not fully understand, and only the thought of seeing his mother and baby sister again keeps him going. The film does not let you forget that these are children wielding A-K47’s, children acting on orders of leaders that do not feel the brunt of the war as they do. The stench of blood and death is as real as the hunger they struggle with every day.

Attah delivers a remarkable performance through his character Agu, a young face that tells the story of a boy who has been through a hellish journey, who has endured sexual abuse and uses drugs to retain some semblance of sanity.

Beasts of No Nation is not a war story particular to any African Nation, it is a universal story of children being initiated into wars rather than telling the story of the war itself.

The ambiguity of the story line itself is its power to tell the story of children turned into killing machines. But then again it might be its downfall in being vague about the details and brutality that comes with child soldiers’ indoctrination.