Jonathan Hatting’s review published on Letterboxd:
Beasts of No Nation is the first film I ever wrote a review for. It was back in 2016 when my taste in films were still very questionable, and while I was very interested in films back then it wasn’t to the same extent as today. I have no idea what I actually wrote and it probably weren’t good either, but it still marked some sort of personal beginning, even though it would take me a few years from there before I began writing regularly.
Rewatching the film I had expected a larger switch in opinion. I thought I had made it seem like a grander and simply better film in my head, but the fact is that this is quite a good film. Cary Joji Fukunaga has crafted a unique film that is both utterly horrifying and incredibly beautiful.
It introduced the world to Abraham Attah who gives an astonishing performance along with a generally competent cast; Idris Elba is definitely a highlight, playing morally ambiguous to perfection. The film is surprisingly vibrant and while showing the macabre darkness of war it is combined with the lushness of the jungle in which the characters travel through, creating contrasts between youth, war, hope and the loss thereof.
The film does have a structural problem as it sometimes seems to lack prober direction. The film has no prober acts to follow, instead it just continuous in one tone with varying intensity. Even though the film is far from boring it still makes the story partially monotone at times.
It is a touching and important story which is generally well told. It definitely makes me excited for the new James Bond film to see what Fukunaga has planned.