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Beasts of No Nation

An African boy is recruited into the world of child soldiers in this harrowing drama from Cary Fukunaga

Idris Elba

Abraham Attah, left, and Idris Elba in 'Beasts of No Nation.'

Netflix

Hard to watch, impossible to forget. That’s Beasts of No Nation, a grueling war story set in an unnamed African country. Idris Elba gives a powerhouse performance as the commandant, the warlord of a rebel army that trains children as soldiers. His new recruit is Agu (Ghanaian discovery Abraham Attah), a boy who saw his family slaughtered. His army indoctrination includes heroin (“brown-brown”), sexual abuse and killing with a machete.

In adapting the novel by Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala, writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Season One) is unsparing in treating this timely, terrifying subject. Elba (The Wire, Luther) gives the commandant a lethal swagger and inklings of a buried conscience that make his brutality even scarier. The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor should have his name on it. But it’s the remarkable Attah, whose young face reflects a hellish journey, that makes this fierce movie a blazing, indelible achievement.

In This Article: Idris Elba, Netflix

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