Director – Editi Effiong
Writer – Editi Effiong, Bunmi Ajakaiye
Cast – Richard Mofe-Damijo, Ade Laoye, Sam Dede, Alex Usifo Omiagbo, Shaffy Bello, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Iretiola Doyle, Bimbo Akintola, Femi Branch, Patrick Doyle, Bimbo Manuel
Year – 2023
Streaming – Netflix
‘The Black Book’ follows the story of a bereaved deacon who takes justice into his own hands and fights a corrupt police gang to absolve his son after he is framed for a kidnapping. The feature directorial debut of Editi Effiong who also doubled as the writer, the movie takes us on a John Wick – Taken – Expendables and a lot of nostalgic feelings rollercoaster.
Set in Lagos and based on Paul Edima wanting to avenge his son’s death, clear his name and bury him. The film points out clearly the rot taking place in the Nigerian Police Force, the corruption of some of its agents and the control of powerful individuals who feel they are above the law.
The film’s pacing is relentless, with each scene attempting to deliver the plot while also reminding us, that this feels very familiar to what we have seen before. Editi wows us with strong production values, impressive cinematography, thematically camera work and a good editing team all aimed to aid the story but fall short. The action sequences in some scenes came off in sync while others felt like a lot more could have gone into it.
What sets ‘The Black Book’ apart from me, was more nostalgic than an act of revenge. For those of us 80s babies who grew up watching ‘Ripples’ Talab Abass and (I cannot remember RMD’s character’s name) was the face-off we had been waiting for all our lives. Seeing Sam Dede, Partick Doyle, Alex Usifo Omiagbo, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Iretiola Doyle, my mind was blow, how did Editi pull off directing them! I can only imagine.
I also loved the fact that they shot in another state and probably made use of acts from that State. The collaborations with State Tourism ministries and the film industry needs to be encouraged and I was a big fan of that. The attention to detail in recreating a militia camp site, settings, and cultural nuances is commendable and adds authenticity to the narrative.
‘The Black Book’ is not without its flaws. For those of us with short attention spans, the plot felt overly convoluted, and some characters lack sufficient development. Let’s not forget mix and match of the Hollywood action themed that I mentioned. As it relates to acting, I enjoyed RMD in this role, sometimes he needs to step out of that rich daddy comfortable roles, so thank God! It was also good to see Alex Usifo, who was giving me Talab Abass vibes, when he slapped Patrick Doyle’s character OMG that was funny! Ade Laoye in the mix of all the veterans, she must have been like a kid in a candid store on set. She held her own and brought her dramatic experience to the production. Please can someone introduce the younger Paul Edima, he wasn’t too shabby as a first timer (I haven’t seen him before).
In conclusion, ‘The Black Book’ is an action flick that delivers on the espionage bit but fails as it relates to intrigue and maintaining the storyline. Editi as a director is one to watch as the technical aspect of the production makes it a captivating watch.
While it may have some minor imperfections, the overall experience was nostalgic with a feel-good vibe.
XploreNollywood rates The ‘Black Book’ 6.5/10 and it should be on your watchlist.