By Isabella Akinseye
Eric Aghimien is the man who brought us one of Nigeria’s best action flicks, the award winning ‘A Mile From Home’ which helped to launch the acting careers of Tope Tedela and Sambasa Nzeribe. The pair have both gone on to win AMVCA awards in categories full of veteran actors. The Berlinale Talents alumnus returns again with another action packed thriller, ‘Slow Country’ which first opened at the 2016 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) where it won the Audience Choice Award and premiered in Lagos last week.
The movie follows the story of Kome (Ivie Okujaye), a homeless teenage mother who resorts to working for a ruthless drug king pin, Tuvi (Sambasa Nzeribe) as a prostitute and trafficker. After seven years in service and with the return of her ex-boyfriend Osas (Tope Tedela), she is ready to call it quits but Tuvi is not ready to let go of his most trusted cash cow.
- Special effects. Aghimien hits the ground running with special effects as the film opens with a murder scene. As expected, the choreography, props and costume do not disappoint. While it does take time before we see some more blood, when it finally comes at the end of the film, nothing is held back. From the bomb explosions to the gun duels, Aghimien has a good time playing cops and robbers. The stunts are performed competently and the ammunition looks like the real deal.
- Acting. For a fairly predictable story, the actors deserve commendation for engaging us with their strong performances. From the desperation in Ivie’s eyes to the timidity in Tedela’s character, we are drawn into their world. Sambasa is impressive in his role as the villainous Tuvi with his vocals, mannerisms and movements. Majid Michel, Richard Brutus and Gina Castel also handle their roles with flair.
- Set design. From Brasko’s den to Tuvi’s abandoned factory where most of the gun battles take place, the set design is true to life. It is obvious that a lot of work went into the staging of these sets to allow for the seamless flow of action.
- Script. Aghimien tries to tell one story too many with the introduction of different sub plots which end up detracting from the main storyline. A lot more work is needed in the script development to prevent the film from dragging and at times, becoming confusing and hard to follow.
- Pacing. For an action thriller, the pace of the film is quite slow especially in the middle where we are being introduced to different back stories, perhaps, in an attempt to stretch the film. We have to wait till the end for the momentum to pick up which it eventually did.
- Believability. Some parts of the film call for one to suspend their disbelief and just enjoy the ride. How do you explain the decision of two police cops not to call for back up when going after a ruthless gang? Also, in some scenes where we had gun shots going off, it was still business as usual. You would expect people to be running for their dear lives when chaos breaks. .