Grade A

Somewhere in Africa, a boy (played by Abraham Attah) and his family are caught between warring factions in their country.  Most of Attah’s family are killed, and the boy barely escapes, running into the jungle until he is lost and alone…but not for long.   Attah is found by a rebel faction led by a brutal and charismatic leader played by Idris Elba.   Instead of being killed, Attah is offered to join the rebels and fight the soldiers who killed his family.   Not having much of a choice, Attah joins the rebels who are mostly children.

With little training, Attah is thrown into the fight, first as an ammo bearer, then as a full-fledged fighter armed with an assault rifle.  He experiences combat on a regular basis which desensitizes him to the brutality of warfare; but somewhere deep in his heart, a bit of goodness remains…a goodness that may be extinguished when Attah discovers a terrible secret of Elba.  Like his fellow child soldiers, Attah will find himself trapped in constant battle as Elba goes rogue against his superiors.  Not part of the main rebel force, and not part of the nation’s army, Attah and his group are “Beasts Of No Nation.”

My most memorable, movie moment of “Beasts Of No Nation” is the scene when Attah is given a machete to make his first kill: a man on his knees, pleading for his life, telling his captors that he is not a soldier but an engineer who is going to build a bridge.

Taking second place for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when we see one of Elba’s soldiers, a fully naked man carrying a light machine-gun.   No, he wasn’t taking a shower; no, he wasn’t sleeping and got caught off guard in a surprise attack.  This dude went into combat naked with his weenie proudly swinging back and forth as he engaged the enemy!

“Beasts Of No Nation” is a terrifying look into some of the horrors that still go on in some African nations.   No solutions are given, just a glimpse of what is.

— M