“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.”

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writers: Dana Stevens, Mario Bello
Staring: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, John Boyega, Jordan Bolger, Hero Fiennes Tiffin
Release Date: September 16, 2022

The Woman King (2022) a story inspired by true events from the 1800s that features the strong personalities of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey. The Agojie are led by General Nanisca (Viola Davis), and The Woman King tells its story mainly from her point of view as she trains a new class of soldiers. Nanisca must balance being a patient teacher while also readying her comrades for a battle that will shape the kingdom of Dahomey’s future for generations to come.

Dahomey is ruled by King Ghezo (John Boyega), and it falls on his shoulders to deal with the unfriendly visitors to their land. The face of white slave owners falls upon Santo Ferreira (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), and he works in partnership with war lord operator Oba Ade (Jimmy Odukoya) to bring captives that are then sold and spread throughout the world.

Nanisca hates the slave trade and doesn’t enjoy any aspect of business with these uncaring visitors. Her hatred for the process is amplified when she discovers that she has a past with Ade, and a few of her own soldiers become shackled under his gaze.

The Woman King is a movie about freedom and how much you are willing to put on the line to fight for it. Members of the Agojie must give up a lot to belong to its fighting clan, and it’s this sacrifice that fuels Nanisca and her followers to continue fighting for their kingdom’s freedom. They gave up life situations on their own accord, and they won’t have what’s left of their entire livelihood destroyed by Ade, Tiffin, and others.

Credit to Netflix, producer Maria Bello, and director Gina Prince-Bythewood for getting The Woman King off the ground. This project stayed in developmental purgatory for many years before it was green lit for 50 million dollars following the success of Black Panther (2018). It is a passion project, and one made with a purpose; the majority of the department heads working on The Woman King are woman or people of color. According to IMDB, cinematography, production design, editing, makeup, hairstyling, costumes and visual effects are all helmed by women or people of color. And let’s not forget director Prince-Bythewood, or the movie’s star and contributing producer, Viola Davis.

Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, and Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King 

Viola Davis fucking rocks. She is a god damn star. You can put Davis in Oscar worthy period piece drama and she will get you a nomination. You can put Davis in a super hero movie and she will be the most memorable character. You can put Davis is an action movie and she will bring out all sorts of beautiful brutality. Yes, I am saying it, Viola Davis is a damn good actress.

There was a bit of buzz for Davis to get nominated by the Academy for her work in The Woman King. I would say that is a reach, but I will caveat by saying that she is the reason this movie works. She not only has the physically intimidating presence, but her portrayal of Nanisca’s brutally honest emotional fortitude is Medusa stare-esq. Davis gives a “I am so disappointed in you look” that it can make any human do puppy eyes and beg for forgiveness.

Davis as the focal point of The Woman King lifts up the weakest parts of the story. There is a Nanisca storyline that involves her reuniting with her long lost daughter, Nawi (Thuso Mbedu). Nanisca had to have Nawi in secret after she was captured as a young Agojie and raped by Oba Ade. It is fate the reunites the different generations of individual stubborn personalities, and it is the most Disney/family aspect of this story. The Woman King already has immense amount of women empowerment that isn’t shoehorned in, and this connection is like adding in knots to the rope climbing activity in elementary school gym class. It just makes understanding the themes of The Woman King a bit too easy.

Viola Davis and John Boyega in The Woman King (2022)

Jon Boyega has the part of King Ghezo, who may be the most interesting character in the movie. In a community where the women of the Agojie are revered, King Ghezo is still technically the top dog. He is the man wearing the crown and having to make the tough choices. That stress he has is amplified because he has many different wives. He needs to juggle his relationships with all of them, and how they impact his look at the community and the Agojie. There is a subplot about of of Ghezo’s wives wanting to be elevated as a woman king, and she battles wits with Nanisca. Boyega has not been in much since his time as Finn in the Star Wars universe came to a close. This is his biggest role since 2019 and it is an interesting one where he is the man in charge, but he is a character in the background. As Finn, Boyega was pushed to the background as the story of Rey and Kylo took over. In The Woman King, he took the secondary, background role by choice.

The Woman King is an elevated Netflix action movie. It is better than movies like The Adam Project (2022), The Old Guard (2020), The Gray Man (2022), Army Of The Dead (2021), 6 Underground (2019), Bright (2017), and Polar (2019). The Woman King is well constructed, well acted and well thought out. It plays a bit too much to the public crowd, but it’s execution of the choice is not piss-poor. It is worth watching, without a doubt.

With Viola Davis being such a badass in The Woman King, it raised a question in my mind. What would the all-female version of The Expendables (2010) look like? Thinking of composing a team of 10 women who could kick absolutely anyones ass. Hard not to put Davis on that list. New blog idea? I think so.


Stanko Excel Lists | Movies, Books, Podcasts. TV Shows
Stanko Letterdbox Account

“Scanners” Defines Cult Movies Qualities

“A scientist trains a man with an advanced telepathic ability called “scanning” to stop a dangerous Scanner with extraordinary psychic powers from waging war against non scanners.” Director: David CronenbergWriter: David CronenbergStaring: Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Michael Ironside, Lawrence DaneRelease Date: January 14, 1981IMDB The cultiest of cult movies. It is worth creating a new…

Meeting The Cast For “The Bachelorette”

Charity Lawson Aaron B. 29 Years OldSoftware SalesmanSan Diego, California Aaron S. 33 Years OldFirefighterSan Diego, California Adrian 33 Years OldRealtorNorthridge, California Brayden 24 Years OldTravel NurseSan Diego, California Caleb A. 29 Years oldResident PhysicianAnn Arbor, Michigan Caleb B. 24 YEARS OLDPro WrestlerOrlando, Florida Chris 27 Years OldWorld Record JumperWhite Plains, New York Dotun 30…

Get Your Testosterone Levels Up! “Expend4bles” Trailer Is Out!

“The Expendables will square up against: an arms dealer who commands the might of a massive private army.” Director: Scott WaughWriters: Kurt Wimmer, Tad Daggerhart, Max Adams, Dave Callaham, Spenser CohenStaring: Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jae, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Andy Garcia, Sylvester Stallone, Caroline WildeRelease…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s