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  • Updated: September 24, 2023

'The Black Book' Review: Justice Is Incarnated In A Grieving Father

'The Black Book' Review: Justice Is Incarnated In A Grieving

Tackling societal issues like systemic corruption, police brutality and injustice, Editi Effiong's The Black Book is a triumphant action thriller riding on nuanced acting from Richard Mofe-Damijo and suspenseful storytelling from the former.

It's no mean feat taking on an ambitious project like this; writer and director Editi Effiong shows he is a master, juggling intriguing plot points while showcasing his deft hand at executing one impressive set piece after another.

RMD is a veteran who has entertained movie fans for decades. Now, he goes a step further by delving deep into the far reaches of his acting abilities to show you how far a grieving father can go to get justice.

Mofe-Damijo plays Paul Edima, a Christian whose life is turned upside down when his son is gunned down by corrupt officers who pin a criminal's identity on him.

Determined to surmount every obstacle thrown at him, the grief-stricken parent is forced back into the life he bid farewell to, using every arsenal at his disposal to clear his son's name and ensure justice is done.

Alex Usifo plays the General, a powerful drug lord who has shaped the criminal underbelly in the country for years with the aid of his right-hand man, Angel (Sam Dede).

When Paul's quest for justice leads him to the above duo, bodies begin to pile up and before long, they realise that they may have messed with the wrong man.

A scene from 'The Black Book'

Violence begets more violence and as the bloodletting continues, the plot thickens, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs from early 1990s Lagos to the present windswept drylands of Kaduna where the climax proves to be as entertaining as I envisioned.

Jade Osiberu set the new standard for how Nollywood action movies should be made and Effiong takes a page off her book to create a well-told tale with a compelling beginning, an expository middle, and a satisfyingly introspective end.

A film is only as good as its actors and as the protagonist, RMD more than carries the story. He convincingly shows a range of emotions from a grieving, broken father to a determined, ass-kicking parent you won't forget in a hurry.

Usifo's General makes for an interesting character but not quite as remarkable as I wanted. While he delivers in terms of performance, his scenes are almost entirely stolen by stars playing his henchmen.

Ada Laoye portrays Vic Kalu, a fledgling journalist who is hell-bent on distinguishing facts from fiction in Paul's son's case. The latter reluctantly teams up with her only for her to find out that they both share a past that leads back all the way to the case she is trying to unravel.

Laoye doesn't falter in her character depiction (I guess her role in Ayinla has something to do with her casting here). In some ways, she acts as Paul's moral compass despite her naivety.

Always a sight for sore eyes, Shaffy Bello proves to be a scene stealer yet again (I haven't quite forgotten what she did in Elesin Oba: The King's Horseman). She makes excellent use of her limited screen time, making you wish she had shown up earlier.

As an action lover who has seen a lot of cool stuff from countless other movies, I was awed by Denola Grey's unique take on a suave and ruthless assassin. I would call his appearance here a cameo but boy did he give me something to remember for a long time!

The Black Book isn't free of the shortcomings that have plagued Nollywood action films but that quickly took a backseat in my mind as the events unfolded. 

The cinematography is great, the music powerful and everything works to make this flick far more enjoyable than I thought.

The Black Book perfectly captures the endemic rot embedded in the different strata of leadership in Nigeria, giving you a glimpse of what it's like to be on the receiving end of injustice.

I found myself doing some deep thinking after the tear-jerking final scene and it takes a lot to move me that way. Kudos to Effiong for helming one of the best Nollywood films of the year.

Rating: 8/10.


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