This movie follows the journey of a small boy, Agu, (Abraham Attah) who has no choice but to join a group of soldiers in an African country in West Africa, many of whom are young children and teenagers. Agu reveres the Commandant (Idris Elba) and many of the Commandant’s allies within the group of soldiers. His childish naivety has been brutally chastised out of this once innocent child, and he is now made to kill and murder in this most bloody ways possible, that nobody should have to do, let alone a boy. There’s a war running rabid through this country and Agu is at odds with himself. He has lost touch with his own morality, what is right and wrong but also being able to differentiate between the two. This movie is bloody, gory and brutal. It’s unflinching and not for the fainthearted. You need a strong stomach to watch many of the scenes in this movie but it depicts the logistics of war on the African continent through blood, gore and innate details thus depicting a heart wrenching image of this child soldier who is caught in a stronghold of civil conflict he shouldn’t be subjected to.
This movie is produced by Netflix so that means it isn’t going to pull any punches. Netflix is developing a reputation of delivering class pieces of television. This is their first attempt at producing an original film after producing so many original series. Why not give movies a shot? The gamble paid off and they’ve pulled off an absolute corker of a movie. A movie like this wouldn’t be allowed on basic cable. Netflix are able to do things that cable networks can’t. The main thing being that they can afford not to care about offending this person and that person due to having no weekly slot for episodes. The beauty of Netflix being that they release all episodes at once. Netflix have pulled some absolute crackers in the past few years which include: Hemlock Grove, House Of Cards & Jessica Jones. This is a movie not a show, but the principle remains. When people watch this movie. They are making a choice. You can’t accidentally stumble on it as you may do on TV, flicking through the channels.
Idris Elba (Luther) rules the screen as the Commandant who bares so many character traits to Joseph Kony up to the point that it’s not even laughable. His character is grotesque with no redeeming qualities. He’s a vile individual who has a twisted sense of care for those under him. He thinks he’s protecting them when in fact he’s depriving them of what should be their’s. He plays this murderer, thief and even rapist to a supreme class. He’s what we’d call a pedophile, having his way with small children and taking out anyone who challenges him. His performance gave me chills. Watching Elba in this very different role was very hard for me, having seen him as DCI John Luther and Nelson Mandela but also Heimdall in the Thor movies and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Let us not forget his origins in American Gangster and HBO‘s The Wire. The man is a powerhouse of talent and I can’t wait to see him lend his voice as Shere Khan in Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book.
Young children should be more naive to the world’s conflicts and not thrust into a war zone. Killing a person is something that you can’t come back from. It’s an act will likely strip away at your soul, your very essence of being. You’re walking down a path that there is no coming back from despite your justification for doing the said act. Agu murdering men and other boys has deeply effected him. He’s just a boy and by the end of the film he is boy in the eyes of the law but not in his heart. He has experienced more than anyone of his age should have and it has degraded his psyche a great deal.
The directing and cinematography from Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) is otherworldly. I was in awe of how well put together it was. The themes were morbid but the construction of the movie was flawlessly executed and I am struggling to make a bad point about it. Tied in with a wonderful and emotive musical score from Dan Romer. The score was the stuff of nightmares. It haunts me in my sleep. The whole movie is picturesque and is alive, it has its own heart and soul. It’s a masterpiece to look at but the dark themes are a strain on the heart. This isn’t a mere fiction. This stuff actually happens and it’s soul-destroying to read about and to watch. This movie is deeply moving yet disturbing in many ways but I urge all who can hack it, to watch it.
In conclusion, Idris Elba has wowed us once again with his acting skills. He plays this wicked tyrant to an alarming degree of accuracy. I’m convinced this was based on Joseph Kony. I’m a big fan of his (not Kony) and to play someone as pure as Nelson Mandela and then play someone as brutal, remorseless and vile as The Commandant goes to show how awesome he is as an actor. Then he plays DCI John Luther who is somewhere between the two. This is our first look at Abraham Attah and he delivers an excellent performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s nominated for a BAFTA. Elba stole the film as he does with all his roles but this is by far his career best and a role that he will be remembered for.