Because of a boiled down plot, a high-concept thriller like Baltasar Kormakur's Beast has two primary tasks: the characters have to be engaging and engaging, and the audience has to endure constant pressure even when it isn't represented on screen and in your face. The issue is in its use, as this is an August release that does far too much ebbing and flowing for its own good.
Beast knows that its greatest asset is its feral wildcat, and it does not quite know what to do with itself when its not around. When it comes to the dangers of being stuck in an African savannah without communication, it leaves a lot on the table, and it only does the minimum when it comes to what might be considered human material.
Beast, a story by Jaime Primak Sullivan, stars Idris Elba as Nate Samuels, a doctor who makes an attempt to reconnect with his two daughters following the death of their mother. They go to South Africa, a country where their father lived, and they meet up with Martin Battles, a self-described enforcer who protects the region from poachers.
Nate, Norah, and Mere take a personal VIP tour of the area in a protected Jeep, and they are surprised by the sights of giraffes, rhinoceroses, elephants, and other animals. When they arrive at a village and discover that everyone has been slaughtered, they quickly realize that something is very wrong, and that they are in immediate danger. The perpetrator of the attack is a massive male lion that has begun killing humans not for food or self-preservation,
The lion attack scenes in Beast are both exciting and well-done.
When the lion is on the prowl and savagely assaulting the protagonists, it shouldn't be a surprise that Beasts' best scenes come together, but the output is nonetheless outstanding, with both claws and teeth acting as the main drawback of Alexandre Ajas' otherwise fantastic Crawl from 2019, for example.
Baltasar Kormakur continues to push the material with a smart and daring approach, and this film goes in the opposite direction. With long one-shot moments, the audience is kept in the action with the characters and not cinematically distanced from it with cuts to a new angle or a reaction.
When the lion isn't around, the beast drags far too much.
The first act is used to establish some interesting interpersonal dynamics, including Mere resenting Nate for being separated from her mother while she was being treated for the cancer that ultimately killed her, and Martin confessing that he did not go to her funeral in New York because he felt that she should have been placed to rest in South Africa. The latter is never addressed again, and the latter is a fundamental motivation for Nate to protect his daughters, which is something we all want from a father on the big screen.
The basic approach to the characters is matched by a straightforward narrative. As frightening as a massive, psychopathic lion is, the film seems to forget that the beast isnt the only thing that savannah has to offer. There are no explicit wilderness survival strategies initiated, and there is even no explicit wilderness survival tactics initiated, and the animals never show up. This is a film that could easily keep its boot on your neck with tension from a wide variety of sources.
Beast is designed to fulfill its potential as a late summer cinematic distraction, but it is also difficult to applaud wasted potential. There is a lot to like in this film, but not as much as there should be.