Beasts of No Nation, which is being distributed by Netflix on October 16, is the most brutal war film in recent memory. It tells the story of boy soldiers used in the wars of West Africa, and virtually every scene is heartbreaking. Agu, a child of perhaps 10 or 11, flees his home after government forces shoot his family in front of him and he only barely manages to escape into the bush. There he is discovered by the forces of the man they call the Commandant, played by Elba with fascinating menace. Idris Elba's performance is his masterpiece. He uses the intense glamour he possesses to portray a monster of glamour—a man whom children will follow into hell while starving. Initiated into a roving band of boy soldiers, Agu is trained to kill by exposure to horror. The boy soldiers, with their strange spells and their drugs and their love of machines, are based on real events, but they are reminiscent of nothing so much as the fantastical War Boys from Mad Max: Fury Road. They act as if they are already dead. In a sense, they are.