Beasts of No Nation is an American war film, written, directed and filmed by Cary Fukunaga, based on the eponymous novel by the Nigerian author, Uzodinma Iweala. It was starring Idris Elba, Ama K. Abebrese, Abraham Attah, Grace Nortey, David Dontoh and Opeyemi Fagbohungbe. He debuted in competition at the seventy-second edition of the Venice Film Festival, where he won the Marcello Mastroianni award.
The film was selected to be shown in the Special Presentations section of the fortieth edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. It was released globally by Netflix on October 16, 2015 and on the same day had limited release in North American theaters on Bleecker Street. In Portugal it was launched on October 21, 2015.
A civil war is raging in an unspecified West African country. A boy, Agu, lives in a small village with his parents, older brother, and two younger brothers. The village of Agu is in a "buffer zone" reinforced by ECOMOD troops. Agu's father is a local leader, and he helps refugees from the surrounding areas by letting them stay in their land.
The village is told that the government has collapsed, with rebels lined up by the military taking control of the country. With rebel forces going to the village, many people flee to the country's capital for safety. Agu's father is able to buy safe transportation for his wife and youngest son, but he has to stay behind with Agu and his eldest son. The rebel and government forces fight in and around the village of Agu, the rebel soldiers flee and the government forces round up the remaining villagers who think they are rebels. When they are about to be executed, Agu's father tells his children to run, just before he is shot.
The two boys try to escape, but Agu's brother is killed. Agu avoids his capture and escapes into the jungle. After wandering for an unspecified period of time, he is caught in a guerrilla skirmish. NDF, a rising rebel faction in the country, adopts Agu. Agu's battalion is led by the commander, who takes Agu under his wing. After undergoing a brutal initiation process, Agu becomes a full member of the militia.
Agu becomes friends with another young FDN soldier, Strika, who never speaks. One night, the Commander summons Agu to his quarters and rapes him. Strika, and another of the Commander's rape victims, comforts him. Preacher, an older soldier, gives Agu brown-brown to lift his mood. Agu and Strika participate in several bloody battles and ambushes. The battalion's success in taking over several cities, killing hundreds of men, women and children, generates a summons to the rebel headquarters, where the Commander, accompanied by Agu, Strika and some other members of the battalion, goes to meet the leader of NDF. They spend an entire night in the waiting area, infuriating the Commander. When they finally find the Supreme Commander, he informs the Commander that he is not being promoted, as he expected, and in fact is being removed from the command. The commander's lieutenant will take control of the battalion, and the commander will be given an official post under the rebel leader. The Commander sees this as an insult and sets out to "celebrate" his lieutenant's promotion in a brothel. While the soldiers (except Agu and Strika) spend the night with the women in the brothel, one of the women shoots the lieutenant. The lieutenant is seriously injured and the commander accuses the prostitute of trying to kill the lieutenant. The prostitute pleads with the commander and says that she shot the lieutenant by accident, but the commander and his men shoot the women and leaves the city with the battalion.
Now fleeing its own faction, as well as the UN and government forces, the battalion suffers heavy losses. Air strikes and a shortage of supplies kill many of them, with Strika being shot dead during an ambush. The rest of the battalion members take refuge in a gold mine for several months, hoping to find gold to pay for provisions. The ammunition runs out, leaving the group with no way to defend itself from the invading enemy forces. Agu informs the Commander about this, and he tells Agu that he must look after him, as all children must protect their parents. As they speak, Preacher, now the new lieutenant, gathers the soldiers to abandon their posts and surrender to the UN, as they will surely die of hunger or be killed if they stay. The Commander first refuses to let them go, but relents when Agu says they must surrender. All the soldiers leave, leaving the commander furious and alone. Shortly thereafter, they are detained by UN troops. The youngest members of the battalion are sent to a missionary school in a safe part of the country. Agu stays away from the other kids, who play games and enjoy the comfort and safety of the school. Agu is plagued by what happened, and has nightmares about him.
After a long time, Agu tells the school counselor that he has done some terrible things, but he will not go into details. He fears that the counselor thinks he is some kind of "beast". Instead he tells how he used to be a good boy, from a good family, and what family he loved. The final scene shows Agu finally joining the other boys to swim and play in the ocean.
Abraham Attah as Agu
Idris Elba as Commandant
Ama K. Abebrese as Mother
Kobina Amissa-Sam as Father
Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye as Strika
Kurt Egyiawan as 2nd I-C
Jude Akuwudike as Dada Goodblood
Grace Nortey as Old Witch Woman