Jonathan’s review published on Letterboxd:
“If the king respects me, it’s because I have earned it.”
And respect The Woman King shall receive. A crowning achievement on nearly every level. Gina Prince-Bythewood crafted a film that is both provocative yet beautiful; brutal yet moving. The Woman King sells its action high, but the heart, emotion, and powerful performances guide this film to its rightful spot on the cinematic throne.
The Woman King manages to subvert expectations of being just another action heavy historic period piece. Instead we are presented with a fierce, and empowering film that highlights the power of unity, family and loyalty. Yes, the action was there. In fact, The Woman King delivered some of the best large scale action sequences I’ve seen since Lord of the Rings. The choreography and cohesion amongst the cast was exceptional. Couple with this with its minimalistic CGI and excellent cinematography, and now The Woman King is one of the better action films I’ve seen in recent memory. The best part is it’s not even an action film, which makes the battles that much more impressive and adds a layer of depth and respect to the film.
The Woman King sets itself apart by giving each character a story that matters, something worth fighting for, something we can see and grasp onto. There were moments of bloody brutality. Moments of intimate heartbreak. Moments of blissful joy and celebration. All of these things working within one another to invoke genuine emotion and provide a truly cinematic experience.
The performances carried this movie to extraordinary heights. Viola Davis was spectacular, an Oscar worthy performance. Thuso Mbedu was brilliant, combining innocence and tragedy in a near flawless display of talent. Lashana Lynch was excellent, delivering a charismatic and heartbreaking performance. Lastly John Boyega, while not a focal point, was an intricate key in the overall story. He carried his character with a humble, but confident swagger, capitalizing on each scene. Every corner of this film was perfectly cast with every actor delivering memorable performances.
“You do not remember me? Now you’ll never forget.”
The Woman King is a gripping modern-day epic that commands your attention from start to finish. From its sprawling set pieces, meticulously crafted production design, and domineering performances, The Woman King deserves all the accolades being thrown at its feet. Unforgettable it well may be.
Can we stop and appreciate the mic-drop moment when Nanisca stopped that bullet with her machete!? Like what!???