As I’ve said in the past, a movie really only has one frame. The plot elements revolve around this image. They are held in place by the gravity of his representative power. In the case of The beasta movie that should actually be called lion jaws, featuring Hollywood hunk Idris Elba (a black British actor often mentioned when talking about the next James Bond), the moving image is Elba’s character, Dr. Nate Samuels, punching a computer-generated lion at the face. We saw the incredible punch in the trailer that dropped about two months ago. It made noise on Twitter. Obviously, the film’s money registered its potential power. After COVID, people may not leave their homes to see a movie about a southern safari; but they might want to see that punch: is that TKO the lion? Is not it? And if not, what happened to Dr. Nate Samuels and his daughters? The answer lies at the end of a disappointing and, to be honest, pointless movie.

Plot: A black American family travels to South Africa to mend the pieces of a marriage that ended first in divorce and then in death. At the bottom (from a Eurocentric point of view) of the dark continent, they met the second most famous South African actor, Sharlto Copley (he plays Martin Battles, a white African safari guide – the most famous actor in SA is, of course, Charlize Theron). The black American girls learn about their father’s past, his friendship with Battles and their mother, who was born in South Africa. All is well until a rogue lion enters their little world. The lion only kills humans because human poachers kill lions. Poachers (invariably black or brown) are at the top of Hollywood’s go-to villains in films shot in Africa – the rest are warlords (Elba’s beasts of no nation) and dictators (Forest Whitaker’s The Last King of Scotland).

The most fascinating thing – fascinating because it’s not surprising – is that white bullies like PW Botha and Ian Smith rarely fit the bill of this Hollywood villainy. As for the IMF’s Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP – also known to Zimbabweans as Extra Suffering for African Peoples), a real-world devil, it has yet to play any part. He has to sit in trendy cafes in Burbank explaining to friends how he just auditioned for movies like The beast“They were looking for a poacher, but I thought a powerful presentation from ESPA might change their minds. We’ll see what happens.”

If I had to make a guess, The beast was made to show producers of James Bond films that the colonial mentality, as Fela Kuti called itcould actually stay intact with a Black Bond. The beast, a Dark Continent tale at heart, could easily have been set in the 1930s with a white family and lots of dead and scared black Africans. Empire doesn’t have to worry about 007’s darkness. As you can see, Elba can also call Her Majesty with her shoe.