• Entertainment - Movie Reviews
  • Updated: April 18, 2023

'Gangs Of Lagos' Review: Jade Osiberu Is Shaking Things Up In Nollywood

Up until she released Brotherhood last year, I didn't really know who filmmaker Jade Osiberu was. She got my attention with that film and has now cemented her status as a pacesetter with her latest, Gangs of Lagos.

Like a daring cougar out to make her presence felt in the entertainment industry, Osiberu leaves no prisoners in a tale of crime, betrayal, and power.

Gangs of Lagos is an introspective look at the lasting effects of growing up in the slums, where the struggle for recognition against a backdrop of bloodletting never gets old.

Tobie Bakre plays Obalola, the conflicted protagonist whose big dream of leaving the crime-infested streets of Isale Eko, Lagos is dashed when his foster father is murdered.

Alongside his childhood friends Gift (Adesua Etomi-Wellington) and Ify (Chike), Oba ascends the ladder of organised crime, sinking deeper and deeper into a world from which there is no return.

Like the rest of us, Oba longs for something more that the life he lives and at some point begins to question certain things around him.

When a second tragedy hits home and alters the course of his existence, his quest for answers leads to a harrowing truth that goes back to his troubled past.

As a filmmaker, Osiberu is artistic in her interpretation of this engrossing story; I was sucked in from the very first scene and I found it hard to let go until the end credits.

Even the opening montage reminded me of HBO's Game of Thrones with its visual imagery and stunning graphics.

It's hard to see a Nollywood film where the cinematography isn't flawed. Here, I searched for shortcomings and found none.

Every shot, every frame, and every camera movement looked picturesque and I needed no further assurance that the best hands for the job were employed.

I see no need delving further into the plot as its progression and story arcs pretty much make this movie one of the best Nollywood films in recent times.

As tools of the director's interpretations, the ensemble cast brings their A-game, breathing life to well-fleshed three-dimensional characters.

Bakre is charismatic and enigmatic in his portrayal of Oba. A man of few words, his stoicism works well in making him a relatable character.

Though he is a bit constrained by a script that doesn't give him much room to flex his acting muscles, the actor makes do with what he has and succeeds in carrying the weight of the film on his shoulders.

Singer Chike plays Ify quite well. Real-life performing artists who take on movie roles and convince you it was a smart choice are hard to find but make no mistake, this young man is one of them.

As for Adesua Etomi-Wellington, when has she ever let movie fans down? My only grouch with her role here is that unlike the other two, her character's backstory is not explored.

I also enjoyed seeing the legendary Pasuma, the boisterous Zlatan, and veteran actress Chioma Akpotha stealing most of her scenes.

I wish I could end this review without having anything negative to say but alas! How many movies, no matter how great, are bereft of imperfection?

Gangs of Lagos excels on almost on fronts but its action scenes, a recurring issue in Nollywood films. While the choreography isn't the problem, the execution leaves much to be desired. 

The two major scenes where the gangs are engaged in a free-for-all should have been phenomenal but ended up a bit underwhelming. It was so obvious that most of the blows didn't land and you could see the actors taking care not to inflict bodily harm on one another.

Also, the effect added to the gunshots is so decades ago. I mean, Hollywood and others figured this like eons ago, why haven't we?

The above observations notwithstanding, Osiberu is smart enough to know that including gore in every scene of violence helps pass the message of what goes on in the slums across.

The streets are literally painted in blood and it's something that makes you suspend your disbelief, no matter how temporary that might be.

Last but not the least, Gangs of Lagos has one heck of a musical score and I found myself humming it after the end credits. 

 I honestly didn't look forward to seeing this film but I'm so glad I did. 

Jade Osiberu is an audacious storyteller, one whose remarkable journey I will be following. I expect a lot of good things ahead.

Rating: 7.9/10.


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Sydney Elike
Sydney Elike

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