‘The Woman King’ – Review
Prepare for a new type of historical action adventure with Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King which brings audiences into a new historical epic and the action hits hard.
In the 1800s, a group of all-female warriors protects the African kingdom of Dahomey with skills and fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Faced with a new threat, General Nanisca (Viola Davis) trains the next generation of recruits to fight against a foreign enemy that’s determined to destroy their way of life.
Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood and screenwriter Dana Stevens take audiences on a rush of adventure with The Woman King, an epic action adventure that brings to life the true-life actions of The Agojie, also known as the Dahomey Amazons, an elite fighting force of all female warriors in service to the 19th Century West African Kingdom of Dahomey, and their ruler King Ghezo (John Boyega). It’s a story of bold action, commitment and ultimate sacrifice as the Agojie got to war against their brutal enemies of the Oyo Empire, and contend with the growing Atlantic slave trade and its influence from abroad. It’s a bold and different type of story, and its female perspective brings something new to the action genre that fans will take notice of.
Finding herself at the centre of the narrative is Academy Award winner and noted performer Viola Davis who takes on the role of General Nanisca. Both respected and feared, Nanisca is a woman who has devoted herself to the warrior sisterhood of the Agojie and she makes a hell of a transformation in the part. In fighting shape and leading from the front, Davis’ Nanisca holds the attention of the audience and as this story builds out her story is revealed and there are plenty of surprising moments that the audience won’t see coming. Davis has long been an actress given to powerful performances, and this is exactly what audiences can expect from her performance here in The Woman King.
Brought freshly into the story is Thuso Mbedu as Nawi, a determined and strong-willed young woman who decides to forsake all civilian life and pledges herself in service of The Agojie. Her perspective lends an interesting framing to the story and her performance is elevated by the established performers around her. Of particular note in the story is rising star Lashana Lynch as Izogie, a tough, yet good-willed veteran who becomes a mentor figure to Nawi, and Lynch displays why she is rapidly becoming one of the most in-demand actresses around. She’s also an absolute physical specimen in the film, and her fitness and physical prowess make her a scary adversary to take on. The combat of The Woman King is brutal and intense, and there are plenty of shocking moments that will elevate the audience’s adrenaline.
The Woman King is a historical epic with a point of difference and audiences seeking something different from the genre will be impressed with its action scenes and committed and strong performances from its female stars.
Image: Sony Pictures