Beasts of No Nation ★★★½

Murderers are children who are trained to kill without mercy.

Through a boy, Agu (Abraham Attah ), he bears witness to the slaughter of his father, brother and friends by government troops. Stumbling into the wild, he is rescued and captured by a dictatorial rebel "Commandant" (Idris Elba) to join his platoon of children.

Beasts of No Nation is an uncompromising war film about the thin line of innocence and evil. Dogmatic cheering and lustful killing is what's made from these brainwashed soldiers.

Fukunaga tautly lunges the camera through a series of militia ambushes, home invasions and urban scuffles. He also crosscuts to ethereal inflections within the forest treks. This may be an unsurprising beat which shows the genocidal extent of a nameless country. But placing it through the perspective of a frightened, drug-induced and ultimately stoic soldier (in a superbly controlled performance from Attah) is where the strength lies. Elba is also a herculean presence as a cigar-chomping leader who reigns over the orphans in which he's indoctrinated.

This graphic film about the victimization of civilians is a powerful and albeit humanist one. Whether it's wholly visionary or blistering enough is rather arguable. Many have suggested these blunt comparisons to Klimov's monumental Come and See. I'd retract from that. But I wouldn't deny that Beasts of No Nation sears into the memory as little boys commit unspeakable acts. A worthy and potent effort.