Movie Title: Blackbook
Release Date: 22nd September, 2023
Director: Editi Effiong
Runtime: 2 hours
Cast: Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sam Dede, Alex Osifo, Iretiola Doyle, Patrick Doyle, Femi Branch, Olumide Oworu, Bimbo Manuel, Boki Ofodile, Nobert Young, Shaffy Bello amongst others.
Proper character development is rarely seen in Nollywood movies, and the anticipated 2023 film Black Book seems to understand the assignment with its protagonist.
Paul Edima’s fharacter, played by Nollywood veteran Richard Mofe-Damijo, reminds you of the famous American John Wick character being an action thriller.
They share almost the same backstory, which drives their journey. John Wick is a former hitman drawn back into the criminal underworld he had abandoned.
On the other hand, Paul Edima, who was also a hitman, returns to his former life when his only son, Damilola, is killed by the same gang members he left 24 years ago.
The film tells how the father’s sins, particularly a criminal one, end up visiting the ones he loves most regardless of how he tries to protect them from it.
It’s interesting to see how this story around Paul’s past as a hitman affects his new title of deacon in the present. His life is assessed based on his new faith, and the bothersome question is if he genuinely abandoned his former life or just disguised it.
The film also shows how people in power can manipulate everyone around them for their selfish reasons. Once they get into the highest office, they are in complete control and can change the lives of ordinary people.
Meanwhile, RMD worked to deliver his role as an action thriller protagonist.
The plot outlives the pidgin phrase “trouble dey sleep, Nyanga go wake am,” Paul is a notorious hitman who went silent for 24 years and makes a comeback to seek justice for his dead son.
In the beginning, Professor Craig (Bimbo Akintola), the CEO of the Nigeria Energy & Oil Company, has been fighting tirelessly against corruption in her community, but stepping on toes, some people want her out of the office.
This leads to the kidnap of her husband and baby, masterminded by a gang controlled by General Issa (Alex Usifo). For the police to stay off their tracks, they pin the kidnapping on an innocent man, Damilola Edima (Olumide Oworu)
Damilola is also Paul’s son, and it is revealed to viewers that he used to work for General Issa before he went low.
Paul left his past life to become a deacon. When he left, he returned a black book, where he recorded all their criminal escapades, to General Issa, leaving the business behind entirely. He never looked back, but the past has returned to haunt him after they mistakenly killed his son.
When Paul finds out about his only son’s death, not only is he killed, but he is wrongly described as a kidnapper; he decides to go after his son’s killers himself and would stop at nothing. Would he get the justice he seeks?
The first thing worth commending is the story because no film is without an account. The storyline is different, not the usual Nollywood action movie, but it could have been better told.
The cinematic elements are another point to commend the movie, even though it didn’t cut across all shots, especially the outdoor scenes. The night and indoor locations were more cinematic than the day and indoor settings.
Yes, casting! It was a fantastic list of brilliant actors, from Richard Mofe-Damijo to Alex Osifo to Patrick Doyle, Sam Dede, Ireti Doyle, and Shaffy Bello. We see a list of these old and new Nollywood names who brought their A-game.
RMD gave a stellar performance likened to the famous John Wick. Considering his age, his acting in the fight scenes is incredible.
I loved the production design, especially the flashback scenes. It was realistic and helped to give the movie the desired story look. Also, the dialogue was good enough to drive the film but could have been better written.
The danger of chasing too many things at a time cannot be overemphasised in Nollywood films. Often, producers want to explore several themes at the same time. Because too many questions wish to be answered simultaneously, in the midst of it, the film’s core journey is lost.
Consider the logline of the film, which says that Paul Edima “takes justice into his own hands and fights a corrupt police gang to absolve his son’s unlawful death.”
One would expect that that is what the film is all about, which portrays a clear and definite journey, but no. It tried to kill too many birds with one stone.
After the inciting incident around his son’s death, the story gets a bit complex to keep track of his mission in the film.
Suddenly, viewers realise Paul has a black book, where he documented everything General Issa did when he was part of the gang. He starts pursuing that and trying to save Victoria, a journalist he saved as a child, almost forgetting the son’s case.
Also, the relationship between Paul and his son before his death should have been better established. The producers should have dedicated more than three scenes in a two-hour film to help the audience get emotional watching Paul grieve over his son.
We only see them swimming on the beach, conversing in the kitchen, and then, boom, his son was killed. Considering the plot, their love and relationship should have been further explored.
Watching it, I couldn’t relate to Paul’s tears and pain after losing his son because I wasn’t invested in their relationship enough to feel the emotions of losing someone dear.
Viewers also didn’t get the feel of Paul’s cruelty as the dangerous and most feared hitman he was portrayed as.
Despite being a beautiful film with exciting scenes, The Blackbook could capture viewers’ attention more if the producers delayed some of the secrets revealed at the beginning talk about delayed gratification. The early revelations made it predictably dull and devoid of suspense.
The Black Book is suitable for a first-time watch. However, watching it again would be a fantastic torture for me.
Final Verdict: 6/10
It is streaming on Netflix!
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