Hollywood sure does have its fascinations with regards to how they portray the Black experience through cinema. The stories are often conveyed with the worst-of-the-worst storylines with characters that symbolize a kind of evil. That’s where they have the great fascination and what most Black actors are rewarded for. Portraying that ultimate struggle that isn’t at all foreign to the concept. Regardless of how many slave movies, movies in Africa, or ‘Hood’ movies that can be depicted through the eyes of the Hollywood producers, what is more or less consistent with them, is authenticity of delivery. Most of these movies have good consultants to make sure that there are accuracies as to how the roles are portrayed (although when it comes to casting, more or less they’re not all the way there yet). In this movie that is produced by Netflix, right off the bat, you know that the execution of creativity will be on point because of the successes of their original series like Orange Is The New Black, Daredevil, and House of Cards (for examples). With names like Boko Haram & Joseph Kony being frequented over the past few years and how they relate to child soldiers, this movie would bring that evil to light while following it through the innocence of a boy named Agu.
Child Soldiers aren’t a new thing. They’ve been around for many years and have been presented in movies like Blood Diamond & Hotel Rwanda, not to mention countless amounts of documentaries including Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children. With it being such an issue that goes on in a regular basis throughout many countries in Africa, I thought it was fascinating to see the Genesis of how a child (likely a boy) gets separated from his family, and is convinced to turn against the corrupt government by a radicalized ‘freedom fighter,’ like the one Idris Elba plays in this movie. Where as his influence and brainwashing makes his subjects believe that they are invincible and what they’re doing is the right thing, there are also insecurities about his own position of power. You see the struggle of commanding an army full of children, and also still having to answer to higher positions of power like any regular government mandated army. I like that the focus surrounded the progression of Agu from a child just trying to run away to save himself, to becoming the solider, to eventually realizing that it isn’t the life for him. There’s the battle with himself through the focus of getting back at the government, to being convinced that he’s a soldier for a greater good, to his relationship with the fellow soldiers, and the self-realization of his actions during his time serving as a militant. The storyline builds it as a documentary in a way because he’s the main subject, and with most movies that have the ‘white saviour’ to swoop in a free the children from their ‘imprisonment,’ there wasn’t that here. It was a matter of sticking to the decisions that Agu made, and the narration throughout would prove to be a retelling of his story to lay out his traumatic experience.
I thought this movie was very well done, and credit to Idris Elba & newcomer Abraham Attah for keeping consistent with the tense mood that is brought about a lot throughout. There are forms of humour as well, which paints Agu as a joker & innocent youth before that happens to be stolen from him. It’s a sad progression, but a very descriptive and hopefully accurate experience that happens on the other side of the world. There’s a reason why there was so much hype around this for TIFF, so I’d recommend watching it when it hits Netflix (and I think select theatres). This shouldn’t have to be a time that guilt sets in for not helping out those in need around the world just because it’s now brought about in visual form, but that’ll always be the case. Never too late to do your part, and hopefully this issue that was brought to light can open some people’s minds up. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX