“The Woman King” Review: Viola Davis Kills Him in a Thriller about a Wild Warrior

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Movies are coming, “The Woman King” is a cool thing. In West Africa, 1823, Agoji, a group of warriors consisting exclusively of women, protects the kingdom of Dahomey (modern Benin). Stop right there. This is the movie you want to see, right? And for the most part, the reckless adventure story of Gina Prince-Bythewood with a cast led by Viola Davis and a story in which action and endurance are combined with history and politics.

Most of the “Female King” – actress Maria Bello (“A History of Violence”) takes on the role of the story, and the scripts of Dana Stevens (“City of Angels”) are made up. Agoji did exist, but the only character based on a real person is the ruler of Dahomey, King Gezo. This majestic monarch, played by John Boyega, must defend himself against the rival Oyo Empire as he deals with foreigners caught up in the slave trade.

By and large, “The Woman King” is a coming-of—age story, as a rebellious 19-year-old Navi (Tuso Mbedu from the Underground Railroad) learns to become a warrior under the tutelage of General Davis Naniski and an equally serious Izogi (Lashana Lynch). Rejected by her father, who believes that no husband will have this energetic but undisciplined young man, Navi goes to Agoji to study the art of close combat on the territory of the palace.

“Fighting is not magic, it’s skill,” says Naniska, and there are many examples of this, as Prince-Bythewood (who previously shot the stunning title “Old Guard” on Netflix) proves how adept she is at managing actions. There is no deterrence, these ladies even use their sharp nails to poke out the eyeballs of their opponents. One particularly harrowing scene, when the trainees overcome an obstacle course, including thorny spikes, seems to be the most grueling version of Ninja Warrior UK ever.

While the film is a real Black Panther, and Dahomey is a less idealized Wakanda, there is more melodrama in “The Woman King.” The narrative twists happen fast and fast with the participation of Naniska and Navi, who must learn to use her power. The film also touches to some extent on the obvious ugliness of the slave trade, since these African dynasties willingly participate in the sale of not only palm oil to Portuguese colonists. However, the role of the Dahomey Kingdom in this transatlantic betrayal is downplayed and criticized for it.

Replacing historical authenticity with public-pleasing scenes of chilling female empowerment, “The Woman King” is somewhat traditional, as it depicts her emotional rhythms, but her strength comes from her inspiring performances, especially from Davis, who can knock a man down with one look. not to mention her machete. Mbedu is very similar to her, while Lynch has much more opportunities to play than the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” gave her. It’s best to watch with an interested audience, even if truth and fiction have been blurred, you will get great pleasure from watching this.

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