starring Idris Elba, Richard Pepple, Ama Abebrese, Abraham Attah
screenplay by Cary Fukunaga, based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala
directed by Cary Fukunaga
by Walter Chaw A couple of days removed and I'm still not able to shake the scene where child soldier Agu (the amazing Abraham Attah) thinks he's been reunited with his mother, finds out he's mistaken, and metes out mercy/justice/betrayal in a sequence of events that ends with him standing on a box to peer out a window. He's a child. One of many in a roving platoon of fighters led by red-eyed Commandant (Idris Elba) through a nameless African country, wreaking havoc in a nameless conflict. Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Nigerian-born Uzondinma Iweala's debut novel is less politics than survey history of the transcendental war film. It's more wise about how something like this should look, in other words, than how it should feel, and the epiphany one has while watching it isn't that this kind of thing happens in the world all the time, across centuries and continents, but that Beasts of No Nation looks a lot like Come and See before it looks a lot like The Thin Red Line before, finally, it looks a lot like Apocalypse Now. Since we're comparing things, Kim Nguyen's War Witch (Rebelle) is the more powerful child-soldier film--mainly because it's about something other than the abomination of using children in war. Children in war as an abomination isn't a controversial stand. If that's all you have to say, well, it's not like I'm not listening, but I'm not impressed.