Plot: What’s it about?
Want to see Idris Elba punch (and kick) a lion? Well, look no further than Beast. This is a lean and perfectly watchable (if instantly forgettable) action flick that will either fill a void or deter viewers. Thankfully, I found there to be enough to like to have some fun during my theatrical viewing. It is certainly a rarity these days where franchise films and superhero flicks invade the market. This one has zero agenda, messages or politics attached to it; it’s simply here to entertain for its brief 90 some minutes. And for that I must credit it.
Idris plays Dr. Nate Daniels; he is recently widowed and brings his two daughters along with him to return to the birthplace of his late ex-wife. His two daughters are: 18-year-old Meredith (Iyana Halley) and 13-year-old Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries). There’s a hope to enjoy the area and see some nice sights. They meet and stay at an old friend of theirs named Martin (Sharlto Copley) who knows the area well and has history with Nate. When they stumble upon a village that has been attacked. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that some lions have done this, and poachers have led to their now aggressive behavior. I don’t have to tell you what happens next, but we find our characters not only wounded and fighting for their lives, but also a vehicle that becomes lodged in a tree, and the struggle to stay alive.
There will likely be some frustrated viewers as we get the usual scenes of character who should stay put, but instead, put themselves in more danger. Even if their intention is to help, the decisions they make can elicit a few groans. Elba is strong in the lead even if the film doesn’t ask much of him. Physically maybe, but the performance itself is mostly just him looking scared and trying to calm everyone down. For such a lean film, the first half could use a bit of tightening up. I wouldn’t mind so much if this added to the film but we get all the pieces we need early on that a little tighter narrative would’ve helped. I do appreciate the R-rating and mostly effective CGI. It isn’t an all-out action film, but it gives the audiences enough of what they expect. And yes, there’s Elba kicking a lion a few times and even punching it as well. You’re either on board with this thing or you’re not. It’s a fun film to see with a large audience. There were a couple of very effective jump scenes as well. I am not quite as crazy about it as a lot of the critics (it has gotten surprisingly solid reviews), but it is an entertaining diversion that delivers on its premise.
The Bottom Line
Beast is a perfectly entertaining and largely forgettable film that gives its target audience exactly what they expect. It could have been a little better, but it more than gets the job done. It knows not to overstay its welcome, but maybe a few more action scenes might’ve gone far. Check it out.