The Woman King (2022)

woman king poster 2022 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, Viola Davis

So-so story with a fictionalized version of historical events

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Woman King

Studio:  TriStar Pictures/Eone Entertainment/TSG Entertainment

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  September 9, 2022 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 16, 2022 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

woman king viola davis sheila atim

Stop, recognize, and listen…

King Ghezo (John Boyega) rules Dahomey in 1823 with his female soldiers the Agojie led by General Nanisca (Viola Davis).  When a young woman named Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) is given to King Ghezo, she finds herself on a path of a warrior.  Nawi is also in love with a half-Dahomean slave named Malik (Jordan Bolger) of Portuguese slavers which goes against the code of the Agojie.  As a push for change and turning away from slavery pressures King Ghezo, Nanisca might have to sacrifice everything when she uncovers a secret of her past she had tried to forget.

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Woman King is a historic action adventure drama.  The movie was released to criticism due to historic inaccuracies and the fact that it was written by Maria Bello and Dana Stevens who are white.  Despite the criticisms, the film was a box office success.

To be fair to The Woman King, it is a fictitious story locked in a historic period of Africa but it is still pretty problematic.  As a film, The Woman King tries to deal with some of the problems and tell a compelling story.  In many ways it succeeds.

woman king nawi rope sword thuso mbedu

Like my cool rope sword tricks?

The film is a movie about strength and power.  It feels a bit built on the back of Black Panther which was a similar message but based entirely in fiction…this shows a world where it wasn’t simply a creation and empowered women were warriors that even a king respects.  The romance, the missing baby, and some of the other “drama” pieces do feel a bit below the story of the movie and themes.  The warring between the people of the kingdoms brought on by slavers using them to fill their ships feels like it should have been the thrust…especially when it is often used to write off the cruelty of slavery.

Viola Davis is generally magnetic in her roles, but this role in particular gives her a lot of rage.  As an older woman in Hollywood, roles can be limited but that is because of how they are written…here, it is written for an older character who is a badass, and Viola steps into the role of an action star nicely.  Thuso Mbedu plays the younger new recruit and plays it with heart while John Boyega feels a bit sidelined since the movie is primarily about the women.  I also like Davis’s partner Amenza played by Sheila Atim.

woman king nanisca vs oba jimmy odukoya viola davis

Revenge is a dish best served piping hot and with vengeance

The movie looks good.  With so many movies about the fighting in Europe and America, it is interesting to see a different kind of fight using different kinds of weapons.  It is shot nicely and has some nice cinematography.

While it does raise issues, it is good to see more voices coming to the screen…and seeing that they can succeed.  I don’t know that The Woman King would have been made twenty years ago, and if it had, it probably wouldn’t have had the budget of this film.  While I don’t think this movie is perfect, it does have a lot action, adventure, and history…if you choose to really look into it (which unfortunately many won’t do).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response