“Just gunshots and dull dialogue;” The Black Book offers no drama 

"Gunshots and colourless dialogue;" The Black Book offers no drama 

To bet against Editi Effiong is to start a controversial conversation because you are going to deal with a fan base that loves his works as much as any other good producer out there – and yet he still releases movies looking like something of an underdog. 

On September 22, 2023, “The Black Book” came up live on Netflix, and with Richard Mofe-Damijo as one of the stars, you already have an insight into the kind of quality story you are about to watch. The movie is star-studded. 

Thanks to Effiong (and a host of other players in the tech ecosystem who co-produced the movie), we have something exciting to begin this quarter, knowing that the last quarter did not give us any special movies; literally. No stories, except the drama that social media always gives us. 

Dissecting the plot of The Black Book

The Black Book opens with a busy scene that makes you think the story is about the hustle and bustle in Lagos. That scene ends, and the audience is left with two stories: a kidnap in broad daylight in a busy part of Lagos, and the cliché fact that the Nigerian Police Force is a chronically corrupt organisation.

The Black Book

That part of the film should have come after a suspense period; really. You already know at this point that you are not going to find originality in “The Black Book,” no matter how deep you look. 

We move to the next scene, and we are wondering how you transition from that scene to the next, not forgetting that the narration trivialises the event of the previous scene.  “If you see something, say something,” in a rather jovial tone. Meanwhile, it was the kidnapping of the family of a prominent professor who heads a government ministry. 

Nollywood has come a long way indeed unless we only want to start from New Nollywood and trash what Old Nollywood gave the world. I mean, the storytelling is usually amazing, but there is still a long way to go in cinematography. 

Read also: Editi Effiòng discusses ‘The Black Book’, Nollywood, and the future of streaming in Nigeria

Cinematography is a vital component of filmmaking with multiple roles. It visually tells the story, sets the mood, develops characters, and enhances the narrative. 

It creates visual impact, offers artistic expression, and immerses viewers in the film’s world. Cinematography also adds aesthetic appeal. In essence, it is integral to conveying a film’s story, emotions, and artistic vision.

The Black Book

“The Black Book” offers almost none of these, as there is no sort of mood-setting or aesthetic appeal. We are just looking at the screen and smiling at our favourites. 

And argghhhh, ‘attention to detail.’

If you are as patient as I was, you’d notice that an announcement was made about a black male who masterminded the kidnap of Professor Craig’s family, but Olumide Oworu (Damilola Edima), a light-skinned male is the one that’s used as the exchange. This is supposed to be the beginning of the climax of the story. 

There is a moral in that part of the story though, one that is not as prominent as it should be – the kidnap of innocent young Nigerians who are used in exchange for proper criminals and killed or tried.

YouTube player

That job, however, is not neat. You would need to watch it to see it, especially because it leads us to the story of Richard Mofe-Damijo (Paul Edima), a serial killer, who took the orders of a greedy General seriously until his retirement. 

That brings us back to originality. 

Originality in film refers to the creative and innovative aspects of a movie that distinguish it from others. It involves the development of unique ideas, storytelling approaches, visual styles, and thematic elements that set the film apart from clichés, stereotypes, or formulaic conventions. 

The character of Paul Edima in “The Black Book” draws from too many Hollywood stories where a retiree (soldier, assassin) resumes killing because he/she needs to. We have asked Hollywood to do something else. But Nigeria is usually late to the party, right? 

Then, the one person called “The most dangerous man in the country” could not break out of the prison. He was literally lost in it. There is no drama. Just gunshots and a lot of colourless dialogue. 

"Gunshots and colourless dialogue;" The Black Book offers no drama 

We hardly even know the exploits of Paul Edima in his youth – the part of the movie that would have given it the 5-star we all want to rate our own. It is just pieces and bits. Editi must have said: “Go do your research,” like Edima is a direct reference to anything real. 

In comparison to “King of Boys” by Kemi Adetiba, we find particular links to real-life Nigerians, and social media had so many names listed as who is the King of Boys. “The Black Book” leaves us with no assumptions. We don’t know Edima enough to make any references. In actual fact, none of the characters were developed properly. 

Interestingly, we understand that the attempt is to tell a story about the politicisation and greed of the Nigerian military, a police force that protects only the rich and powerful, and a media space that’s being compromised, but what’s the endpoint? 

“The Black Book” is itself filled with black spots and disconnects. One, though, trivial, is when Edima collects a file from Professor Craig and says, “Thank you,” without opening the file. Did she tell him behind the scenes what’s in the file? 

Anyway, Nigeria is a land of wonders, so that’s a possibility. 

That scene summarises the whole film – let’s do something, they would like it, trust us. 

There are other stars in the movie like Ade Laoye as Vic Kalu, Sam Dede as Angel, Alex Usifo Omiagbo as General Isa, Kelechi Udegbe as Officer Abayomi, Shaffy Bello as Big Daddy, Iretiola Doyle as Commissioner, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett as Editor, who all played their part as amazing characters. But, that’s it. 


The Black Book shows that Nollywood is on the right part but the movie still left something to be desired.

Storytelling is a fundamental component of filmmaking, serving as the driving force behind audience engagement and emotional connection. It entertains, communicates ideas, develops characters, and introduces conflict and resolution, keeping viewers invested in the narrative’s unfolding events.

Filmmakers should leverage storytelling to convey messages, explore creativity, and elicit a range of emotions, offering catharsis and fostering empathy among audiences. 

"Gunshots and colourless dialogue;" The Black Book offers no drama 

Storytelling’s universal appeal and memorability make it an indispensable tool for filmmakers to achieve their cinematic goals, whether to entertain, inform, inspire, or provoke thoughtful discussions.

Editi Effiong may just have been trying to tell too many stories at once and mumbled up the process. What if this were a limited series instead? 

This article was contributed by Omoleye Omoruyi

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