A Fierce Film Fit For A Woman King
Sony's new movie is a quality experience despite the heavy controversies surrounding its story.
Box Office Crown
The Woman King is a historical action film about the Agojie, the elite army of women warriors from the Kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th century. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the movie stars Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, Jordan Bolger, and the Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis in the titular role. This film was released in theaters and topped the box office with a solid $19 million domestically in its opening weekend. It has been met with overwhelmingly positive reception from most audiences; however, there is heavy controversy surrounding the plot.
Sony has been marketing its movie as "inspired by true events," mainly because the nonfictional Agojie warriors are its primary focus. However, some believe this movie downplays the Kingdom of Dahomey's hand in the Atlantic slave trade. In the film, Viola Davis's character Nanisca spends a few scenes trying to convince John Boyega's character King Ghezo to stop kidnapping and selling enslaved people. By the film's end, Ghezo agrees, and the Agojie sets the slaves free. However, this isn't the movie's main focus; it's more of a subplot. In real life, Dahomey had a much more significant role in the Atlantic slave trade, so some people are calling to boycott this film for inaccurately portraying horrific events. However, this movie isn't even trying to be completely historically accurate, as it only says "inspired" by true events.
Thrilling And Chilling
To put it simply, this film is an exhilarating experience. It's full of solid acting performances, some of which may even be Oscar-worthy (Davis' and Mbedu's especially). The actresses effortlessly switch between showing vulnerability and emotion and exerting confidence as they take down bad guys. Besides the epic action and drama of the story, there's a little bit of humor and romance sprinkled throughout, which is nice. The plot of this movie is very compelling, as audiences will easily root for the girl training to be an Agoji warrior while also hoping the Agoji general can put an end to the slave trade. Additionally, a big plot twist halfway through the movie adds another deep layer to the two protagonists' relationship, making this film all the more satisfying to watch.
A Few Flaws
With the good always comes some bad, but this movie doesn't have much of the latter. The action scenes in this movie may be epic, but it is often impossible to tell what's going on. This is an issue in many action movies these days: the action scenes are full of shaky camerawork, quick cuts, and fast-paced action to make it feel like the audience is right there in action. However, this also makes it difficult to tell who is who, especially when most characters wear the same outfits (the Agojie uniform). This is not just a problem in The Woman King but most modern action films. The only significant issue with this movie is that no profound messages or thought-provoking themes are involved. It's still a good story, but one that won't be thought about very often and will probably be forgotten in time.
While the technical aspects of this film aren't particularly outstanding, The Woman King is still easily in the top ten blockbuster movies released in theaters this year. But that isn't incredibly impressive because there haven't been many of those yet. Still, this film holds its own and is an empowering film that celebrates diversity. If you like action epics and can excuse historical inaccuracies in favor of an enjoyable movie-watching experience, you will not regret watching this film.
Raving Rating: 7.2