The Lords Resistance army. Joseph Kony. Sierra Leone civil war.

This is the word pool, which inevitably circles around BEASTS OF NO NATION. The reason is clear. Based on the acclaimed novel by Uzodinma Iweala, the novel takes place in an unnamed but very obvious, civil-war-torn West African country. Agu (played with emotion and fragility by Abraham Attah) is a care free child until he witnesses his village being attacked and his family killed. While fleeing, he arrives at a location held by a band of rebel soldiers, led by a ruthless commander (Idris Elba) and is co opted into their war.

Cary Joji Fukunaga (director of the long delayed NO TIME TO DIE), gives credence to the by involving the conversation in an African frame. Death and conflict is spurred by Idris unhinged leader. Violence spills and shakes the boys but becomes a part of the daily struggle. Fukunaga’s pushes much of this with tinges of hallucination and harrowing realism. Agu is met with a sense that the world is not a constant but a series of horrors that rupture and Fukunaga cleverly plays with this ‘realism’. Realism so intensely visceral it borders between surreal and sardonic.

Criterion have given us a rather tame set to enjoy here mind. The 2K leaves a lot to be a purest joy. Colour balances are off, yes, the saturation of light are good and the diffusion rich but the colours are off. The extras needed time and what you get is an average documentary, an above average commentary and a mediocre conversation that leads off in interesting ways but never fully meets the mark.


  • 2K digital master, approved by director Cary Joji Fukunaga, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New audio commentary featuring Fukunaga and first assistant director Jon Mallard
  • New documentary on the development and making of the film, featuring interviews with Fukunaga; author Uzodinma Iweala; actors Idris Elba and Abraham Attah; and producers Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, and Riva Marker
  • New conversation between Fukunaga and film and television producer and cultural commentator Franklin Leonard
  • New interview with costume designer Jenny Eagan
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • English descriptive audio
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Robert Daniels

New cover by Nessim Higson

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