Not for everyone, film “Beasts of No Nation” gets violent

Over the last few years, Netflix has exceeded expectations with its original programming, including “House of Cards,” “Narcos” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” However they have only created one original film,“The Square,” a documentary that was nominated for an Oscar several years ago.

Now they have made a full-on original film, “Beasts of No Nation.” This film was written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who directed “Jane Eyre” and “Sin Nombre,” but is better known for his exceptional directing of “True Detective: Season 1.” The film touches upon sensitive subject matter, including child soldiers and the loss of innocence in an undisclosed West African country.

The film follows a child named Agu (Abraham Attah), as he becomes embroiled in a civil war following the loss of his father and older brother after a raid on his village. Unfortunately Agu soon becomes part of an army battalion after a jungle skirmish, where he gets conscripted into war by the charismatic and sadistic Commandant (Idris Elba). Commandant convinces him to fight against those who destroyed his family, but Agu loses his innocence and his childhood along the way.

This will be one of the hardest film experiences of the year for most viewers as they see a child subjected to war, murder and violence. Beyond this, there is not much of a clear story beyond Agu waging a vain vengeance plan against those who took his family away, but the film is carried by the stellar performances of Attah and Elba. Elba is powerful and terrifying as the Commandant, the leader of the child soldier battalion who leads the children into battle, fighting a war with no clear sides. The film is shot well, with one particular scene going through a one-shot sequence, similar to the famous six-minute tracking shot by Fukunaga in “True Detective: Season 1.” Some scenes in the film do seem somewhat jumbled, but the movie manages to get out of this funk.

It is safe to say that despite some editing and narrative inconsistencies, the film succeeds at presenting a hard look at some powerful subject matter. “Beasts of No Nation” is available now on Netflix, and can be seen in some select theaters.

Film: “Beasts of no Nation”
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Release Date: Oct. 16, 2015
Rating: ★★★★½