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‘Beasts of No Nation’ Trailer: A Child Soldier’s Initiation

The trailer for Beasts of No Nation opens with a group of camouflaged men and boys waiting nervously under a bridge in a West African jungle for a convoy to pass. They launch an RPG and machine gun attack on the convoy, winning a clear victory. The leader of the group, known as the Commandant, calls forward a young boy named Agu and orders him to kill one of the prisoners, telling him the man is responsible for the deaths of Agu’s parents.

Agu stares at the pleading man on his knees as the Commandant urges him on, and another boy waits expectantly, the anger, hesitation, and reluctance written across his face. He raises his arms over his head as the man sobs, and the movie’s title page cuts in, leaving the suspense hanging in the air.

Between the clear cinematography that transports you to the jungles of Western Africa and the heartbreaking flashbacks to Agu happy with his parents, the trailer had me hooked. Idris Elba as the Commandant delivers both authority and charisma, even as he encourages a child to kill a man, but the heavy emotion was brought in with the still performance of the world-weary Agu — played by newcomer Abraham Attah — who convincingly delivers the emotion of a once-happy boy whose life has fallen into tragedy and horror.

Helmed by Cary Fukunaga, who directed the first season of True Detective, Beasts of No Nation promises to bring this story of civil war, loss, and reprehensible action into vibrant reality before our eyes.

When civil war tears his family apart, a young West African boy is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters and transform into a child soldier.

Beasts of No Nation will be released on Netflix and in select theaters on October 16th.