dir: Gina Prince-Bythewood
The Woman King is based on a somewhat true story, in that there was a place called Dahomey in West Africa, and there was an all female fighting force called the Agojie, and they fought and won a war against the larger Oyo empire that treated Dahomey as a vassal state.
Oh, and there was a king called Ghezo (John Boyega) who ruled for 40 years.
The rest, as they say, is not history, but fiction. The stirring portrayal of General Nanisca, as leader of the Agojie, is an entirely created character.
Also fictional is the idea that Ghezo, at Nanisca’s urging, stopped selling captives as slaves.
I knew all this going in, but it really didn’t adversely impact on my enjoyment of the flick. Same way that no-one really spends any quality time in conversation pointing out that nothing in Gladiator was historically accurate, or even made any sense. They just liked it when Russell Crowe in his prime was killing motherfuckers dead in the Coliseum.
In that same spirit, the primary attraction of this here flick is that Viola Davis, Academy Award winner Viola Davis, kills a lot of motherfuckers dead in this film, and they all have it coming. Anyone who knows who Viola Davis is knows how cold and mean she can be in a role (her version of Amanda Waller in several DC films including the most recent Black Adam would probably shoot a child in order to somehow get a good cup of coffee), and this is her at her most steely-eyed.
She is such a huge presence in the flick that whenever she wasn’t on screen I was a bit nervous. But she is by no means the only character of note. John Boyega’s role is quite minor, and he plays it quite minorly (and comically, I would argue). It’s strange that this royal personage, someone with supreme power and a massive harem knows that Nanisca could fuck him up at a moment’s notice, so he always has to seem deferential to her. Though she is loyal at all times, she carries herself with an air of “I could eat your face in an instant and no-one would stop me”.
I did wonder at some points why she didn’t kill him and take his place.