After seeing the first movie which was 3 hours long and had a lot of issues, I delved into the second installment (which was presented as a limited series and a runtime of about 6 hours+) with a lot of hope that the increased scope and budget would improve the quality of the flick. But perhaps, my dreams were far more unrealistic than I ever expected.
Let’s start with what I liked
1. The aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which is reminiscent of Hollywood blockbusters was a welcome change from the usual 1.78:1 which we’ve become accustomed to in Nigerian cinema. It worked well to accentuate the camera work and gave the presentation an upscale look.
2. 5.1 surround was something I never expected to see(in this case, hear) in Nollywood until now and I never knew it was there until I heard a gunshot in the rear left speaker of my home surround setup in one of the scenes in the film, from the exact position it was fired relative to the camera. So of course I had to quickly pause and check it and viola!, It was indeed a true 5.1 audio setup. If you’ve never experienced immersive surround sound, you may not understand the level of depth and immersion it adds to the overall cinema experience.
3. The use of special effects for weather and smoke were well done. It leaves me feeling disconnected due to lack of realism.
Other random things I liked are:
- The portrayal of the internal battle Eniola fights with herself and how she struggles to resist it. However, I felt it was overdone at some point.
- Also, the costumes (design etc) were nice… But we’ll come back to that later.
- Chigurl had only one scene in the entire series, but she delivered a very emotionally stimulating and believable performance. I forgot that she was Chigurl.
- Kudos to the child actors in that segment. *I liked the governor’s mum performance.
- Malay was a vibe, I enjoyed his portrayal, even though I feel his character’s potential was wasted.
Now, to the part that you all came to read. The things I didn’t like…
This series was difficult to watch. It took me the whole of Saturday and Sunday to get through because I wasn’t quite enjoying it. I had more interesting things that caught my attention, so I kept going one episode at a time. But because of the hype surrounding it, I had to soldier on and kept hoping it would get better and it ultimately didn’t.
The Plot: The shows biggest problem is the plot. It seems to suffer from identity crisis and doesn’t know if it wants to be a political story, or a story about the underground world of the Mafia, or a redemption story of a disgraced Mafian Boss, or a revenge story. Eniola’s guilt arc and self punishment (which would have made for a compelling narrative) was dropped after the first episode. Afterwards, she became so unrelatable & unlikeable that by the end of the series, I couldn’t care less if she died or not.
The Yelling: Yelling and over-dramatisation does not make a movie great, neither does it make you an awesome actor. I enjoyed the scenes where she had to rely on facial expressions to convey her emotion/message much more than the ones where she was screaming at people for no reason (which was most of her scenes, if we’re being honest). And this was like scene to scene. The entire presentation lacked subtlety and this cuts across all the major characters, not just Eniola. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at each subsequent yelling match by characters in a lot of scenes.
Costume and Art Direction: The outfits, while pretty, eye-catching and flamboyant, do not have any sense of coherence or theme attached to it. They just seem to be all over the place. And also the film doesn’t seem to have a coherent art direction which made it miss a lot of mark. Background music fades in and out abruptly (sometimes at high volume). This, in turn, makes a lot of the scenes jarring and uncomfortable to sit through or enjoy.
Back to the Characters and plotline: The campaign manager’s character delivery was clumsy and unbearable to watch. I know he’s meant to add some humor to a film that takes itself too seriously. But that notwithstanding, he came off as more annoying than funny. That said, the film also suffers from continuity issues. Take for instance, Nse Ikpe-Etime’s character’s stout when she goes to see Aare in jail kept fluctuating. People waking up in heavy well-beat face is unrealistic. People’s lipsticks improperly applied and then having close up shots of their face is unprofessional. Eniola seemingly escaping an explosion and then going off to torture someone on the same day seems very unbelievable. Akorede(Makanaki) surviving dozens of bullets fired at point blank range from the first movie also seems like a bit of a stretch.
Characters are being introduced left, right and center without any backstory or introduction and the audience are left to guess who they are and why we should care about them. Who the hell is Samuel (Charlie Boy)??? And how did he get a seat at the table? The housemaid’s plotline of being a spy was almost forgotten and never explored. Malay’s character seemed to only exist just to be killed off towards the end; he didn’t add much to the story. And that plot twist at the end which was done for shock value had no such effect on me. There was no proper set up for it and it didn’t fit Eniola’s entire narrative (and character trait) since the first movie. It just came off as forced.
The journalist’s arc, which would have made more sense if they paid more attention to the writing, ended up being redundant at the end. The relationship with his estranged wife was also underdeveloped. They wrote themselves into a corner when they made up a whole story that a mafian boss (who was vital in electing a president) couldn’t get a simple governorship post for herself. There was no lesson to be learned from everything we spent over 6 hours experiencing; just gunshots and loudness. By the time it was over, I wished all of them would kill each other in that last scene and save us from the misery.
The Verdict: I slept off after the first two episodes and had to continue the grind later in the afternoon. This wasn’t some great movie or the second coming of Jesus like a lot of people on this Obasanjo’s Internet would have you believe. It may be worth your time if you’re Yoruba due to the heavy use of Yoruba idioms and proverbs which embellished some parts. But it certainly isn’t worth 6 hours runtime. The show could’ve done with less drawn-out scenes which didn’t add any value to the overall experience. And also a lot of its parts should’ve been completely cut because in the end, they didn’t matter to the plot.
This is an epitome of an orisirisi that didn’t come together well and another example of why a big budget is not the only thing that matters. Every aspect of a movie has to come together to make it greater than Its individual parts. This is also one of the pitfalls of hype and Stan culture. I could’ve easily given a summary of this film by calling it an “average” Nigerian movie, because at its core, that’s exactly what it is, average. Behind the Netflix budget, flashy outfits, and forceful acting, it’s a generic and forgettable experience and I wish I had used my time for something better.