Johnny Mad Dog - African film about child soldiers

A quick search of Café Society seems to show that the film hasn’t been mentioned here. So, here’s my take on it, and if anyone else has seen it, I’d be interested in discussing it, hopefully at a more intelligent level than the usual IMDB-poster idiocy.

The IMDB page has a couple of trailers, but I recommend just watching it without knowing what to expect, as I did. I heard about it from my brother, who told me what I’m telling you.

Very powerful film, and the whole cast is great, particularly the two leads, Christophe Minie and Daisy Victoria Vandy. It’s not a “message film” in that it doesn’t promote any particular political agenda, it’s a story about people - children - in a terrible situation. Any theories you or I might have as to why that sort of situation exists in so many parts of the world isn’t really relevant, the film isn’t trying to do anything other than tell a story about people, which is what makes it so powerful.

It doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly “African” story, either - talking about it with my brother we both felt that it was a universal story: give any bunch of 10-16 year-old boys AK-47s and set them on your enemies and you’d end up with exactly the same behaviour anywhere in the world. I have no doubt at all that rich white kids would do exactly the same things in the same situations. As I said to my brother: “They’re schoolyard bullies, but with AKs and nothing to lose.”

And that’s another thing that makes the film so powerful: you never lose sight of the fact that these boys are kids, despite the atrocities they commit. There’s no need for any suspension of disbelief; anyone who went to a shitty school will recognise that the behaviour is just the same, only much better armed and with zero fear of any repercussions. The film even manages to make you feel a little sympathy for the boys, despite their appalling actions: they’re kids, and the only adult guidance they have is from people who just want to use them as inexpensive and easily replaceable cannon fodder.

So, yeah, very powerful, highly recommended, etc.

Oh, and you’ll need subtitles; though the film is from Liberia, and the language is “English”, the accents make much of the dialogue incomprehensible. Don’t even bother trying to watch it without subs, unless you’re fluent in Liberian “English”.