BY INYANG EDOHO
The CEO is a murder mystery that revolves around five top executives who have been nominated for the post CEO in TransWire Communications, a global phone network with major operations in Nigeria. All nominees arrive at the resort from different countries across Africa, aware of what’s at stake and they meet with the weird resource person who declares self-elimination to be her preferred means of determining who the CEO should be. From then on, there are musical chairs, deaths, a bit of sex and much of mystery.
The CEO was produced and directed by one of Nollywood’s most respected filmmakers, Kunle Afolayan and written by the award-winning Tunde Babalola. It was shot in different locations across Africa and has an enviable array of casts, including Grammy Award-winning Angélique Kidjo (Benin), Jimmy Jean-Louis (Haiti), Aurelie Eliam (Ivory Coast), Nico Panagio (South Africa), Fatim Layachi (Morocco), Peter King (Kenya) and Wale Ojo, Hilda Dokubo and Kemi Lala Akindoju, among others.
The movie starts with a scene that has of one of the characters running; this quickly reminds us of October 1. The theme of white infiltration seems important to Afolayan and his writer. It’s the second time they are working together on something like this; this time, it tilts more towards neo colonisation and the English man in October 1 is replaced by the Chinese. Apart from that, this movie stands apart from October 1 in every way except that part of the dialogue on what “my educated opinion tells me”. I liked the phrase from the previous movie, there is no way I wouldn’t spot it in this one.
Wale Ojo, who plays Kola seems to be the go-to guy when it comes to playing a happy- go-lucky Nigerian. He did it well in Newton Aduaga’s Rage where he played Pinpin; in the 2014 crime thriller, Render to Ceaser, where he played Pade and he did it well in The CEO. He does it just as effortlessly as Nkem Owoh inspires humour and whether his character is a good or bad guy, Wale makes him loved, or at least, entertaining. Apart from him, other actors in the movie did their bit well, although there were times I doubted Auriele Eliam’s delivery and that of Fatim Layachi. It looked like they had good delivery days and bad delivery days, but the suspense in the movie was redeeming as it could take the viewer’s attention away from that.
I think it’s only fair to make movies that allow the average film lover watch without being distracted by lapses in continuity, poor sound, light and other technicalities. Unlike many of our movies in Nigeria, Afolayan’s The CEO did well on that. His lighting was good and he played with shadows so well.
However, I could not help but notice that in the scene where Adekunle Gold played, the people were dancing to a different beat; that didn’t go well. You don’t want to create a nice time for your characters at the expense of your audience; fifteen to thirty seconds of irritation can work adversely on the audience members’ psychological time.
Something else I couldn’t help noticing in one of the scenes was how dirty Kola’s shirt was by what, according to the story, was no later than 3pm in the day. Maybe it got stained by makeup or something, but then filmmaking is not about some self-nominated cinema sanitary prefect, so back to the important aspects of the film!
Told in flashbacks, the plot holds up so well; it’s a movie about mind games and it ends up playing with everyone’s minds – the characters and the audience – with a twist in the end that gives the story a whole new meaning. At a point, everyone is trying to understand, including the person at the centre of the mystery. There is the very interesting role played by the musical chairs, Dr Zimmerman’s (Angelique Kidjo) choice of topic for the day and the hand that plays the tune.
This is definitely not one of those typical Nollywood movies you can watch while bathing a baby; beautifully written, it demands full attention and a quick audience. It will come as a relief to those who have become tired of poorly researched movies that are too shallow to capture the necessary vocabulary. The CEO talks corporate business with terms of that field, but in way that accommodates those who are unlettered on simple business terms; they will see the actions, understand part of the dialogue and they’ll follow the story; however, only behind those who are well informed.
The movie raises important issues and presents us with the aspects of corporate politics that we ignore. The dialogue also drops hints of racial consciousness and mistrust among Africans especially towards Nigerians.
Did I enjoy the movie? Yes.
Would I pay for my friend to watch it? Yes, if the friend is smart; I don’t want to explain the movie to the person after he or she has watched it.
Do I think you should watch it? Yes, if you’re intelligent.
INYANG EDOHO is a scriptwriter. A graduate of Communication Arts, she loves art in its different forms. When she’s not writing or watching movies, she’s reading up on psychological health and weird people.
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