Viola Davis is superb as ‘The Woman King’

(News4usonline) – The terms female badass and Black Girl Magic can easily be applied to the Sony film “The Woman King.” The badass part comes with an all-female military regiment fiercely protecting the best interests of the Kingdom of Dahomey, a West African nation with a kick butt and takes names later attitude.

The Black Girl Magic moments throughout the flick take place because the same group of women warriors keeping a vigilant eye on Dahomey are Black (Africans). Led by the unrelenting Nanisca (Viola Davis) and her Agoji friends, “The Woman King” dominates with its presence as the gatekeepers of their nation.

Viola Davis (left) is the Agoji warrior Nanisca sitting next to King Ghezo (John Boyega) in “The Woman King.” Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Long before the Dora Milaje came along in “Black Panther” and made female warriors a trendy thing, the Agoji or Mino fighters were the originators of an all-women butt-kicking unit. In “The Woman King,” these magnificent warriors show their loyalty and allegiance to King Ghezo (John Boyega) without hesitation.

It is through this lens that the film does great things. Davis is incredible. Her star power is undeniable. Everything Davis does as Nanisca feels big. It is hard to escape the all-encompassing presence of Davis, but some of her fighting comrades have worthy performances that should be celebrated.

Up first is Thuso Mbedu, who plays the role of Nawi, a newbie in the fighting ways of the Agoji. Mbedu shows off her prowess as an actor as Nawi unapologetically goes toe-to-toe with Nanisca, her mentor and leader.

The other roles in the film that stand out are the ones portrayed by Lashana Lynch (Izogie) and Sheila Atim as Amenza. And whatever role Boyega does appears to be done with rehearsed ambition (the man simply knows how to act). With that said, this film belongs entirely to Davis, the greatest actress of this genre, a woman who can flip ordinary roles into iconic figures.   

Actress Viola Davis (left) takes her cue from “The Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

While in the role of Nanisca, Davis is able to rebut the old mischaracterization of Black women. Black women have always been the bedrock of the Black family. Davis brings that to life in Nanisca. She is beautiful. She is bold. She is courageous, and she is fearless, attributes that are too often overlooked historically in storytelling aspects about the Black woman.

And if one may take a liberty or two, the connection or the link from the Agoji warriors to the force known as Dora Milaje could not be coincidental. The global popularity of “Black Panther,” which featured an all-Black female fighting unit (Dora Milaje) without question has had an impact on the follow-up storyline about the screen portrayal of the Agoji fighters and vice versa.

After “Black Panther” had blown everyone out of the water with its nearly all-Black cast in the fictional paradise of Wakanda, you almost knew that with the inspiration brought on by the Dora Milaje that something was coming down the pipeline, in terms of Black women being seen as true leaders.

“The Woman King” gives Black women that platform and more. The 2022 film season through the end of the summer has been nothing short of a train wreck with little or nothing to show as far as quality filmmaking. “The Woman King,” directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, who is Black, is about survival and loyalty to a purpose.

Thuso Mbedu (far left), Lashana Lynch, and Sheila Atim are part of an excellent cast in “The Woman King.” Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Inspired by true events, this plays well with all the fight scenes sprinkled throughout the movie. From a neighboring threat to the shackles of slavery, “The Woman King,” promises with a full set of adventures. There’s plenty of that, but there is also superb dialogue, which makes the movie potent for blockbuster quality.  

“The Woman King” is exactly what moviegoers need. It is also a film that plays out well on the big screen. Some movies play small when they are in theaters. “The Woman King” does not have that problem.

“The Woman King” is epic in every sense of the word. Not just because the wondrous Davis plays the lead role, but the movie highlights women as heroes in about every facet of the film.

From the beginning to the ending of the two hours and 15 minutes film, “The Woman King” is a very powerful tale of strength, unity, determination, and courage under fire. No one displays all of these traits as well as the seasoned and no-nonsense Davis. In her amazing body of work, Davis has made every role she has taken count as a memorable one.

“The Woman King” is the latest layer she can add to her already impressive resume.

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