Viola Davis should have been leading armies this whole time.

In “ The Woman King,” the always regal Oscar-winner is a mass of muscle, battle wounds and world weariness as General Nanisca, the head of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the West African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, who cannot be pigeonholed, the film is a throwback of sorts to the big, exciting, emotional warrior epics that used to be all too common at the multiplex, with the twist that it’s women not men driving the action.

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