The first teaser for Beasts Of No Nation, Netflix’s first foray into original filmmaking, was hard to watch and yet impossible to look away from. Director Cary Fukugana doesn’t let up in the full trailer for the film, which has just been released.
Beasts Of No Nation features Idris Elba as a nameless Commandant in an unnamed African country, leading a platoon of child soldiers. He recruits the children orphaned by civil war and inducts them into his army with bloody initiations. Commandant has lots of questions when he first finds Agu (newcomer Abraham Attah), but they’re quickly replaced with orders to kill. And because he is “a good follower” who’s lost his family, Agu carries them out.
We see how the children could end up in thrall to Commandant (and his real-life equivalents)—he manipulates them by making them think the people they are killing are personally responsible for the deaths of their families. But his pitch is also seductive, and not just because these boys have nowhere else to go. Commandant tells them “the weapons of this war” are in their hands, the hands of “the young, the powerful.” He gives them a home and a direction, morally repugnant though it may be.
We recently weighed the odds on this film and Fukunaga’s deft handling of the bleak subject matter in season one of True Detective, combined with Elba’s magnetic presence, have us convinced the film won’t end up mired in misery. Beasts Of No Nation premieres October 16 on Netflix and will be released in select theaters.