Dear Nollywood Filmmakers,
There is a great dose of originality in the premise of this movie: transportation companies in Nigeria, their challenges and their successes. It is also very indigenous. Yes, the business of transportation can pretty much be the same worldwide, but Nigeria will always be a different case.
There are messages and morals in this story that every Nigerian can learn from, and they are beautiful and touching. We all keep talking about One Nation, Nigeria, but only a few practise it. It is encouraging that this movie creatively indulges in this concept. No matter where we come from, and what we’ve been through, we should always try and find ways to come together and create something resilient and indomitable together, like the Lion Heart (South-East) and Maikano Motors (North) merger.
It is with this same concept that the idea of inter-tribal marriage also presents itself. It is brilliant how the director highlights the building love relationship and leaves the rest to the imagination and/or argument of the audience. This is an art that most of us have always been blind to, drenching in our on-the-nose storytelling habits.
Succession is a key element in family-owned businesses. It cuts across both families and in various dimensions. This also adds an extra layer to the story, especially as there is the slight misunderstanding of who is next in line at Lion Heart.
There is also a heavy sense of Duty as can be seen in the successors of both businesses, Lion Heart and Maikano Motors: Adaeze (Genevieve Nnaji) and Hamza (Yakubu Mohammed). They will stop at nothing to prove to everyone that they too can be successful, and these add more to some of the conflicts that can be seen in the movie.
It feels like a standard plot, and when you look closely, you see something like Hero’s Journey therein, with our heroine, Adaeze going through a turbulent journey towards her victory. On the way, she almost gives up. On the way, she even tries to jettison her most trusted ally, Godswill (Nkem Owoh a.k.a Osuofia). On the way, she finds a brilliant new strategy in a competitor’s camp.
It might seem at first that there are some lone, disconnected scenes in this movie, like how we are used to doing in the industry, but if you look deeper, you will find that these scenes bring light to the various issues on ground. For example, the disturbing thugs in the beginning of the movie. It is later that the audience understands that Igwe Pascal (Kanayo O. Kanayo) most likely masterminded it all, especially as we see that he has some sort of agreement with Samuel (Kalu Ikeagwu), a senior staff member of Lion Heart.
Also, Adaeze’s early morning jogs finally leads her to view a competitor, Peace Mass Transit – yes, I saw it – when at first it seemed like a superfluous addition to the tale.
There are challenges in this story that genuinely seem like a lost cause, generally the challenge of the possibility of losing the Lion Heart company because of a decision that was made without being thoroughly thought through. The director brilliantly provides a solution to these challenges in an interesting sub-story, which escalates beautifully and brings with it a hopeful love story.
Just after the Odiagu family’s discourse about the kind of man that is husband material or not, Adaeze remembers a probable old time lover, Arinze (Peter Okoye), as one who could possibly borrow her money to help pay off the loan. Although, it is unclear why she changes her mind and runs off, that sort of man is certainly unsuited for her caliber of woman. Who knows what she would have experienced with him in the past?
Speaking of not thoroughly though through decisions, it is difficult to believe that Venerable Odiagu (Pete Edochie) would make such a stupid decision to take loans amounting to almost a billion naira, only to buy more buses and increase Lion Heart’s fleet, just to prove to the government that his company is worthy of the abstract and uncertain BRT contract. It is extremely out of character for Mr. Odiagu, and I am still searching my mind for the character flaw about him that would warrant such. I guess these things do happen, even to the best of people. However, a better reason would have helped for a soft-landing in the story.
Ah! My favorite character of them all, Godswill. Ever comical, ever protective, ever loving. What would Adaeze have done without him? He goes over and beyond in a stealth and confident manner, and easily allows Adaeze take all the glory.
Generally, there is a perfect selection and assortment of seasoned Nigerian actors, and with their characteristic roles from way-back. It is amazing how this director matches them to their current roles in this movie.
Phyno can also be seen playing a role with characteristics suited to his real-life nature, so can Peter Okoye. In their own unique way, they add some flavor to the tale.
There is a perfect blend of Nigerian English and Igbo. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of use of Igbo language in this movie, and it seems like it’s not a problem for the audience.
It is also possible that because the director knows that not everyone is Igbo, the dialogue is mostly restricted to short and concise statements, one that would not make the audience’s eyes race after the subtitling to catch up with the dialogue.
The dialogue also runs deep, and is almost proverbial. You can also see the things meant by the dialogues in the actions of the characters and in the scenes generally, and I’m not talking about a person saying “go get me a glass of water”, and the person being referred to goes to get the glass of water. I’m talking about a person saying “I’m thirsty” and someone, acting based on the current setting brings water for the thirsty person in some way, even if it’s not a glass of water. Then again, it runs deeper than this.
The dialogue is very indigenous in nature, and extremely non-pretentious, unlike what we are used to doing with the New-Nollywood actors and actresses whose descent we are unable to properly place in this global village.
Oh! Did I mention there’s use of Hausa language too? Pete Edochie, the supposed Igbo chief actually spoke a lot of Hausa!
In the first five minutes of the movie, there is the establishment of a conflict, left for a hopeful permanent resolution, and with this, the movie races through the accompanying complications.
The movie is a little over one hour thirty minutes. This is a short time, but a lot is achieved and in a tad non-linear manner. The movie is shown in great detail, the kind of detail that we would normally dreadfully spread into two and the half hours.
For goodness sakes, this is a Nollywood movie with a party scene that doesn’t exceed three minutes! That is, with associating story detail. Nicely done!
And in the end, when the credit rolls, names like C.J Obasi, Emil Garuba, Ishaya Bako and Oliver Aleogena can be seen as members of the brains behind this. Together, there is hardly anything major to pick apart in this movie.
This is the future, Nollywood!
We need to get our acts together and collaborate for the greater good. We need to stop producing trash on our own and expecting to make astronomical benefits!
We can only get better from here.
Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.
She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.