Directed by: – Dare Olaitain
Produced by: – Olufemi D. Ogunsanwo
Starring: – Charles Etubiebi, Wale Ojo, Ali Nuhu, Emmanuel Ikubese, Zainab Balogun, Bollylomo, Seun Ajayi, Shawn Faqua, Kunle Remi, Aderupoko, Tope Tedela, Linda Ejiofor, Somkele Idhalama, Saka
Running time: – 110 minutes (1hr 50mins)
Greed Is Good.
It’s no secret that the most successful type of movies to come out of Nollywood financially speaking are Romantic comedies, dramas and slapstick comedy romps but that hasn’t stopped the fact that the industry is now reaching a level where we are beginning to see a greater variety of films now. Last year alone we saw Nollywood make movies based on our countries history through the likes of 93 Days, Oloibiri and 76 and they were well-received films. Today’s movie is one that has got me really intrigued, as it is one rooted in the shady criminal underworld of Nigeria.
Written by Dare Olaitain and also serving as his directorial debut, Ojukokoro follows a cashless manager Andrew (Charles Etubiebi) of a decrepit petrol station Lubcon, that doesn’t actually make its money from petrol but from a less conventional (not entirely legal) method. On his birthday the manager decides to rob his employers. As he begins to execute his plans he is not alone in this endeavour and he is going to realize no matter how good your cause is, it isn’t always a right one.
With a simple but intriguing premise and an extremely talented cast that features the like of Charles Etubiebi, Wale Ojo, Somkele Idhalama, Tope Tadela and Seun Ajayi amongst many others, Ojukokoro has all the required pieces to successfully steal the coveted prize of movie of the year before others get an opportunity to do so.
- Massive praise must be given to the plot and screenplay. Despite how simple the movies plot looks on the surface it’s deceptively intricate. The movie could have easily focused all its attention on Andrew’s plight but it respectfully takes a page out of Guy Ritchie films like Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Rock n’ Rolla and captures some of the dark humour from Quentin Tarantino classics like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs whilst adding a Nigerian character to it. This approach makes Ojukokoro unique in the Nollywood sphere as the script and plot gives room for the other characters interested in robbing the station to develop which turns the concept of armed robbery into an allegory that heavily implies that no matter how noble your cause is Nigerians and to a larger extent humanity are mostly motivated by greed.
- The dialogue is some of the best I have seen and heard in a Nigerian movie, as it was truly authentic. The characters didn’t use smart one-liners, Shakespearean language or cheesy lines to get their point across but spoke like actual people. Some characters choose to speak in Pidgin English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and casually switch between the languages like a normal person would on the street. This approach to storytelling allows the characters to mirror conversations that would actually happen amongst Nigerians Young and old.
- Ojukokoro is brimming with great characters that you will definitely not be forgetting anytime soon. We have the protagonist Andrew, who is portrayed by Charles Etubiebi. He puts in a very solid performance as he effectively draws the audience into this dark and dingy world with his narration and plays the straight man to this craziness down to a tee. While Etubiebi’s Andrew is a likeable lead, it is his supporting cast that are the true scene-stealers. Wale Ojo’s turn as Mad Dog Max, a maladjusted kidnapper and drug pusher was a personal highlight for me as he was very unpredictable and frightening to watch which is nice change of pace from his usual Modus Operandi. The film got some of its best laughs through Bollyomo & Saka who play two incompetent security guards that talk the talk but ultimately run away at the face of danger. Emmanuel Ikubese performance was also noteworthy as got a few good laughs as the high functioning and paranoid drug addicted accountant who was watching the money like a hawk. Ali Nuhu gets a decent amount of screen time to put in a good performance as a well-meaning politician whose shady actions has created enemies and will make a massive impact on the events of the film.
- Without a doubt the two best performances in the film were Tope Tadela and Seun Ajayi turn as Monday and Sunday, two of the station’s filling attendants. They first present themselves as simple employees of the station but as the plot thickens we begin to understand their motivations and some characters will learn the hard way that people aren’t what they seem. Out of all the performances in the film it’s these two that will leave you in awe because of the multifaceted nature of their characters and their ability to convey that to the screen.
- In a movie that is done so many things right there is a flaw that harms the overall experience and that’s the utilization of the female characters. They are unfortunately not as well developed as their male counterparts and are merely relegated McGuffins that move the plot forward for the male characters. It’s such a shame because Somkele Idhalama, Zainab Balogun and Linda Ejiofor are very good actresses in their own right and it would have been nice to see more of them. This problem is not exclusive to the ladies as two other characters in my opinion didn’t add anything to the story like the arrogant bystander who is played by Kunle Remi and Aderupoko character, a driver who simply just wants to get petrol. That’s not to say that they didn’t leave an impression with the little screen time they got, I just wish that there was a bit more to them, but this issue tends to rear its head when you have a relatively large cast.
Ojukokoro is an excellent crime drama that is equipped with an interesting story , memorable characters and great performances from its cast. It is definitely going to leave an impact on the industry with its unique approach to storytelling and character development. A movie that you should definitely watch as soon as possible.
RATING: – MUST WATCH!!!