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The Black Book Unveiled: A Deep Dive into Nollywood's Action Odyssey - Movie Review

Join us on an exploratory journey as we dissect 'The Black Book,' unraveling Nollywood's foray into the realm of action.

Best The Black Book Unveiled: A Deep Dive into Nollywood's Action Odyssey - Movie Review

"The Black Book," an original Netflix film produced and directed by Editi Effiong, made its debut on Netflix on September 22, 2023. This action-packed movie brings together some of Nollywood's finest actors, including Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sam Dede, Alex Usifo, Shaffy Bello, Ireti Doyle, Femi Branch, Patrick Doyle, and Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett. The film unfolds a tale of vengeance, justice, and corruption, where a grieving deacon takes matters into his own hands to clear his son's name after he is falsely accused of kidnapping. As we delve into this movie review, we'll explore its plot, characters, action sequences, and its unique blend of old-school Nollywood style and modern action.

The Plot Unfolds

The story kicks off with two prologues that set the stage for the movie. The first prologue features a tense moment where a man ambushes a woman, holding a gun to her head. The second prologue plunges the audience into an intense street battle involving Sam Dede and his gang, as they appear to be plotting a kidnapping. The chaotic scene is loud and confusing, leaving viewers questioning the motive behind the apparent abduction.

Next, we are introduced to the movie's protagonist, Paul Edima, portrayed by Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD). Paul shares a breakfast with his son, offering fatherly advice and inviting him to attend his church service. However, the dialogue during this scene may raise a few eyebrows:

"You know son, I've been asked to preach in church this evening, and I want you to come," Paul says.

His son replies, "You know I won't come..."

The choice of the word "come" instead of "attend" feels somewhat odd, but it's a minor quibble. Soon after, on his way to the church event, Paul's son is accosted by a group of thugs in military attire, who falsely accuse him of a crime and fatally shoot him in broad daylight. This tragic incident sets the stage for Paul's relentless quest for justice.

Is It a John Wick Wannabe?

The Black Book has drawn comparisons to the popular John Wick movie series, known for its remarkable action sequences and a skilled, vengeance-driven protagonist. However, while RMD's character, Paul Edima, is portrayed as a determined fighter seeking justice for his deceased son, he falls short of emulating the qualities of John Wick.

The primary issue lies in the plot itself. Paul's quest for justice feels somewhat flawed, as his son is already gone. What does he stand to gain by pursuing justice after his son's demise? It would have made more sense if his son were alive and held captive, providing a clearer motive for his actions.

Additionally, the movie struggles to create seamless narrative bridges between central plot points, making certain scenes feel forced and clunky. For example, the inclusion of a journalist character who seems to exist solely for the sake of the story's requirements is somewhat awkward.

While The Black Book boasts a stellar cast, including RMD, Sam Dede, Iyabo Ojo, and Alex Osifo, some of the film's character motivations and actions seem to be inserted into the plot without sufficient development, leaving audiences with a sense of confusion.

Old-School Nollywood Meets Modern Action

Despite these shortcomings, there are aspects of The Black Book that are worth acknowledging and appreciating. The presence of iconic Nollywood actors adds a touch of nostalgia for fans of the industry. RMD, Sam Dede, Iyabo Ojo, and Alex Osifo are renowned for their performances in past Nollywood classics, and their presence in this film undoubtedly enhances its appeal.

Moreover, The Black Book distinguishes itself from typical Nollywood productions by delving into action-packed sequences rarely seen in the industry. The film adopts a classic, old-school approach to action, which sets it apart from contemporary Nollywood films. While it may not reach the same levels of action mastery as Hollywood counterparts like Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves, it capitalizes on the opportunity to explore the action genre with the aid of modern technology.

Action with a Hint of Reality

One notable aspect of The Black Book is its choice of action sequences. The film maintains a degree of realism by avoiding over-the-top stunts and choreography. Fight scenes are characterized by their gritty, grounded nature, which reflects a more realistic portrayal of physical combat. RMD's character barely throws punches at the antagonists, contributing to the film's authenticity.

However, the action sequences are not without their faults. Some scenes are notably slow and lack the intensity one might expect from an action movie. In these moments, it becomes somewhat baffling how RMD's character manages to accomplish physically demanding tasks, which adds a touch of unintentional humor to the film.

A Case of Unnecessary Prolongation

One of the film's noticeable drawbacks is its runtime. The Black Book concludes at precisely 1 hour and 30 minutes, leaving additional scenes feeling superfluous and irrelevant. The film's ending, which features RMD and Alex Osifo having a casual conversation, might leave viewers scratching their heads. After establishing Osifo's character as the ultimate antagonist, the sudden shift to a laid-back chat between the two actors seems incongruous with the preceding intensity.

This choice may stem from the actors' physical limitations, as both RMD and Alex Osifo are visibly older and may not possess the athleticism required for a believable, climactic showdown. Ultimately, it feels like a missed opportunity for the film to deliver on its promise of a John Wick-inspired experience.


Conclusion

"The Black Book" may not achieve the same level of action prowess as its Hollywood counterpart, John Wick, but it deserves recognition for its attempt to break new ground within the Nollywood industry. The film takes us on a nostalgic journey to the old-school Nollywood era, while also incorporating modern action elements. Despite its flaws, the presence of veteran Nollywood actors and the commitment to grounded action sequences make it a noteworthy addition to the genre.

While "The Black Book" may not be a perfect John Wick replica, it represents a commendable effort to merge the best of both worlds, combining classic Nollywood charm with contemporary action. It serves as a reminder that the Nigerian film industry continues to evolve, exploring new styles and approaches to storytelling, and that alone is worth acknowledging and appreciating.

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Poetic Messages – We Made Words Sound So Poetic!: The Black Book Unveiled: A Deep Dive into Nollywood's Action Odyssey - Movie Review
The Black Book Unveiled: A Deep Dive into Nollywood's Action Odyssey - Movie Review
Join us on an exploratory journey as we dissect 'The Black Book,' unraveling Nollywood's foray into the realm of action.
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