Read Tolu Kareems take on Oloibiri: A Tale of Blood & Oil
PRODUCER: Rogers Ofime
CAST: Olu Jacobs, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett
RUN-TIME: 1 hour 25 minutes
Oloibiri is based on true life events in the years between 1956 and 2012. It follows the life of Gunpowder (Richard Mofe Damijo – RMD) and his struggle to get oil companies out of the area, a place in Ogbia, Bayelsa State. Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett (Tinsel – TV Series, Dazzling Mirage) plays his mother but she’s unable to influence her son’s decisions. This was obvious during their confrontation over Dogo’s public execution. Gunpowder had graduated first class honors but had later resigned from his workplace to help Oloibiri salvage her lands and the water. He did this as the head of a military group that intercepted Robert Powell’s motorcade (the Head and Owner of Foreshaw Exploration played by William Moses). Robert Powell narrowly escaped and was helped by Chisom (Ivie Okujaye) a medical doctor.
Ivie Okujaye should get an award for her role here unlike her not-so-moving performance in Alero’s Symphony (2011), a film starring Faze (Kolomental). She almost overdid her “trembling”, but on the whole, she was real. The bloody events looked absolutely real. It still baffles me (though), that she took Robert Powell to Elder Timipre (Olu Jacobs). With her being aware of the potential torture and loss of life that could have ensued, the obvious choice was to have driven him to the nearest police station. Luckily for the white man, his life was spared, but only for some time as he was captured eventually. No matter the terrible shock from the day’s events, he slept rather too soon after he’d been left with a hulk-look-alike and his camping militia. Shortly afterward he landed right under Gunpowder’s nose, in a torture cell.
I do not have the Robert Powell torture-cell diaries but I think he put up an okay show of self-sacrifice during his time there. He was rightly disheveled and his confused fear was palpable. That was understandable. RMD’s look would scare anyone. He had an air of simmering vendetta, like someone with huge scores to settle. The AMAA winner brought his character to life. He was completely ghen-ghen. If you’ve not seen the film nor the trailer then you may safely imagine Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation – poised and lethal. Except that he looked younger than Idris – talk of actors that don’t age. Stunts were absolutely believable, including all the right props in his deserted jungle hideout.
RMD’s uniform wore on him like a skin, unlike his other armed militia in red berets and brown chinos. They should have all just worn black or some color more dangerous and mean. I mean, see the SWAT team that went to ambush the house-kidnappers (sent by Gunpowder) in Houston. They were armed to the teeth in gray and black. Not in red berets and chinos. I’d save my comments on how Oloibiri ended. It’s not the type of film you bounce out of the cinema feeling like you just watched an award-winner (though it might take some awards), it’s the type of film that’d leave you wondering what you were doing when this true life story took place. Things are happening around us now that would be filmed in the future (for the lesson they’d teach) and yet at present, we – as human beings – are totally oblivious. That’s one lesson I picked anyway.
The house kidnappers I mentioned earlier were the most boring set of actors ever! The only thing entertaining or interesting was their hair, the afro and the beard… picture two slurry pimps. How they even got into such a respected man’s residence beats me. It’s a pleasure Curtis Graham (Director and DOP) denies us of. Editing also got slightly untidy when RMD placed a call and began talking like someone was answering him. We could still see part of his phone’s screen which clearly hadn’t left the home-screen!
Oloibiri is surprisingly inventive for a real life story. My MVP actor had to be Olu Jacobs. His face-off with Gunpowder had me on the edge of my sit. He spoke his truths without fear. His role bore on me as one of the strongest and most felt. Love or romance doesn’t peep anywhere in this script, certainly not a film for Valentine’s Day. It’s strictly about crude oil and a man who died fighting for his people, AND it’s a must watch!
Catch the trailer here: