Review: Beast

Idris Elba vs. a lion sounds like something you’d type in Google’s text-to-image generator. It’s also the plot of the latest survival thriller by director Baltasar Kormakur ( 2 Guns, Everest) starring Elba and Shartlo Copley.

Beast tells the story of a recently widowed Dr. Samuels (Idris Elba) and his two young daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries) visiting his old friend Martin (Sharlto Copley) in South Africa. The families dream vacation to help them grieve the loss turns into a nightmare when they stumble upon a village that’s been viciously attacked by a lion.

After the lion attacks Martin, Dr. Samuels and his family find themselves under attack and crash their jeep. Stranded without cell service and unable to use the CB radio, the Samuels family wait for help while the lion waits for his moment to strike.

Beast is a man vs. nature film plucked out of the early 2000’s and released in 2022. Underneath this tale of a man trying to protect his family and friend from a ferocious lion, are stories about family and grief, friendship, grief, evil poachers, and the tranquility of nature and what those animals are willing to do to protect it.

Like most films survival thrillers, the film depends on people doing very stupid things at the worst time. Leah Sava Jeffries and Iyana Halley are excellent as Dr. Samuel’s young daughters. However, their characters are tasked with all of the tropes like leaving the vehicles when they shouldn’t, arguing about stuff that’s not important while a lion is trying to murder you, and lots and lots of screaming.

Director Baltasar Kormakur does a fantastic job creating tension with tight camera shots that make you feel like you’re trapped in the car and he does an even better job building tension as characters try to avoid being killed. There are very few wasted moments in the films 93 minute runtime.

The lion has a high body count, is a killing machine, and survives a lot of things that should’ve probably killed him – it’s basically the Terminator. If there’s one glaring flaw, it’s how ridiculous the CGI looks during some of the lion attack scenes. It’s very noticeable but doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the scenes.

Beast is a fun B-movie survival thriller that hits all its marks. It a great airplane movie and one of those movies that will play on basic cable for years to come.

Grade: B-