BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
I’ve spent a good part of my week hoping there is no health implication to rolling one’s eyes because I couldn’t seem to stop doing it with Espionage on my screen, a 2016 movie directed by Uzee Madubugwu and produced by Nelson Jumbo.
Espionage tells the story of an undercover agent at JFCC who is rated one of the best because according to her, the end is what matters, not the means. She is about to make history (at least that’s what it says in the movie), but before she does, she has one more case to solve, involving the Kingston brothers who have meddled in all sorts of cyber crimes and money laundering. She goes undercover as a writer to find incriminating information and cosies up to one of them in order to get it.
Trying to pull off a detective Nigerian movie is oh so impressive, but it hardly ever goes well. First, the writers are sloppy and lazy, doing very shallow research and naming names that make no sense. Then there are the actors who act as though they aren’t going to be paid for the movie so they can do a shabby job and still get a nod. Uru Eke as Grace in Espionage, for example, is rigid, delivering her lines like she’s reeling off a script, her expressions flaccid and unremarkable.
Alexx Ekubo Is Maxwell Kingston, younger brother to Peter Kingston, a character portrayed by Kenneth Okolie. Alexx, expectedly, is the playboy who falls for anyone that fills an F in the gender segment of forms. The day Alexx takes up a role that has nothing to do with a woman, and does it well, I would begin to consider him an actor. Till then, he just acts, mediocrely so.
Kenneth is believable as the monster he is alleged to be, but when he begins to beat about because he is told he has a nephew, it’s hard to reconcile both personalities. Wait a minute, how long was Grace at the Kingston’s for her to have gotten herself pregnant and determined the sex of the child? This isn’t specified as the task is made to seem like it lasted only a few days. And then what’s with the obsession for flash drives? There are many places to store information, which makes me wonder why she only kept looking for flash drives all around the house.
The men she reports to, in the parts of the movie which lead to the gradual unravelling of the story, are unnecessarily mean, somewhat clueless, and type on their computers throughout. One would wonder why they couldn’t just record her testimony or better still, hire someone on the side to do the typing while they listen.
Truth be told, the entire premise of the movie is faulty. You keep running into the same person consistently and when she shows up at your house as the writer you need, you hire her without batting an eyelid and even invite her into your home to live. And then you leave your house for months because you have a suspicion based on a hunch? I mean, what is this story about again?
So Grace is so badass? We don’t see it. We only see one lady who looks stern, talks stern, walks in slow motion and begs and cries when the water hits the road. For a professional, why would she sleep with a criminal without protection and get pregnant with his baby? Love? On what basis? A woman with a gun goes to arrest two grown men, and while she is taking out the cuffs, she spends hours tucking her gun in, but trust the man to stand there obediently, waiting for her because, well, he is a gentleman. What happened to self-defense and the fear of spending the rest of your life behind bars? Heck, what happened to common sense?
Espionage is ambitious, but that’s all that it is. The plot is ridden with too many holes, so much so that it shifts from make-belief to force belief. Even though it is just about an hour long, it would have you yawning and zizzing every fifteen minutes, especially with the unwarranted interruptions that come with Grace’s narration. And what in the world is JFCC?
I’m giving Espionage a 35. I’m still rolling my eyes, Lord help me.