The Woman King – Movie Review
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writer: Dana Stevens (Screenplay)
Writer: Maria Bello (Story)
- Viola Davis (Fences)
- Thuso Mbedu
- Lashana Lynch (No Time To Die)
- Sheila Atim (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)
- John Boyega (Attack the Block)
Plot: A historical epic inspired by true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: The Woman King starts as General Nanisca (Davis) of the Dahomey Kingdom of female warriors frees soon-to-be slaves from a rival tribe. Nanisca answers to King Ghezo (Boyega), as she pushes for the tribe to start an honest trade, instead of selling their captives into slavery.
As Nanisca trains her new recruits, which includes Nawi (Mbedu), her most trusted fighters Izogie (Lynch) and Amenza (Atim) prepare for a battle against rival general Oba Ade (Odukoya). This leads to a battle to end the slave trade from their port.
Verdict on The Woman King
Nanisca is a general in the Dahomey Kingdom, the warrior leads other women in battle defending their kingdom. She trains the recruits and teaches the women because they fight unlike any other tribe in the area. Nanisca starts to doubt herself with the latest battle suffering from nightmares about her past. She is fierce, deadly and considered the best in the army.
Nawi is a young woman from Dahomey who gets thrown into training by her father. She talks a lot more, breaking the rules but her skills are unquestioned, being the best recruit of the year. Nawi is a character we learn most about in her abusive upbringing, which explains why she is such a determined warrior.
Izogie takes Nawi under her wing in the training, she comes off as the lightest-hearted member of the army. She uses her knowledge to explain why they fight to Nawi, teaching her tricks to understand the discipline required.
Amenza is Nanisca most trusted friend and confidant, she has been by her side for decades including the most difficult time of her life. She believes in a different method that Nanisca reluctantly joins her in and will fight by her side no questions asked.
King Ghezo rules the kingdom of Dahomey, he encourages his female army and listens to their ideas. He is willing to risk his kingdom to end the slave trade he openly sells in. this is usually just his captives, he isn’t hands-on in battle though, letting his trusted warriors fight for him.
Viola Davis is fantastic in the leading role, an action role not many expect to see from her, where she shines. It isn’t only the action where she thrives, she handles the series side on a level, not many actors could, showing the traumatic past her character has come from.
Thuso Mbedu has given us one of the breakthrough performances of the year, she is amazing as the tough rebellious warrior. Lashana Lynch continues to show she is one of the best talents around, after her recent performances in Captain Marvel and No Time to Die, this only proves she has a massive future. Sheila Atim is excellent in her supporting role too, rounding off four powerhouse female performances.
If there is a weakness in the performances, it is John Boyega, while still great, at times his scenes feel like they are from another movie. As his character doesn’t feel as connected to the warrior side of the story where most of the rest shine.
The story follows the Dahomey Kingdom as they look to defend themselves from an imposing threat from a rival kingdom. A kingdom that wants to increase the number of people sold into slavery, while they look to end the agreement and trade products. It sees the female warriors step up to fight back for the freedom of their own kind.
This is a story that shows a kingdom fighting back against the slave trade, while already having its own hands in it. It puts a spotlight on how the traders took advantage of a community, putting them at war with each other as they looked to profit. Even though we get to see how the fierce warriors prepared for battle and trained their recruits. The fight to defend themselves is strong and proves how much they were willing to give up defending themselves.
The Woman King is an action history movie, taking us back to Africa when the slave trade was in full motion. It shows the fierce battles the Dahomey warriors fought in and showed fighting skills to make them the most feared in the land. The fights are brutal, showing the different weapons that would have been used in the fight between the kingdoms.
Final Thoughts – The Woman King is a brutal impactful movie that creates a host of new action stars.