BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Emem Isong‘s Kidnap, a 2013 movie directed by Lancelot Odua Imasuen, tells the story of a group of friends and colleagues who are unjustly retrenched from their workplace and are made to face harsh realities. Donald (Joseph Benjamin), one of them, is terribly ill and about to be evicted from his house with a jobless sister, Tess (Chioma Akpotha) and mounting bills. Benjamin (OC Ukeje) loses his girlfriend, Ann, to a heart disease because he is unable to pay her hospital bills. All these and more lead them to getting their pound of flesh by attempting to kidnap their boss’ twin children, Emeka and Cassandra (Mbong Amata). While the duo tries to resist, Emeka is mistakenly shot by Donald, who has assumed the role of leader of the gang, and Cassandra is taken away.
After acquiring a ransom of twenty million Naira from her father and their former boss, Mr Okoro (Enebeli Elebuwa), Cassandra is released to her family, but not before she strikes a noticeable connection with Donald who, in the entire time of the kidnap is masked but kind to her. When she is released and tries to socialize with friends at a club, she runs into Donald and his gang but doesn’t recognize him. He woos her and she falls for him, and when marriage plans are on the way, as well as plans to move to Canada immediately after the wedding, Benjamin comes and tries to seduce Cassy who rebuffs him. In a fit of anger, he reveals Donald’s identity as her brother’s murderer and leaves her devastated. The gang tries to flee but are quickly waylaid by the police, led by a Chief Police Officer (Desmond Elliot).
This almost three hours long movie tells an ambitious but not very realistic story. These are regular guys who went into crime out of circumstances, and now, seeing the deal had worked and they had twenty million Naira, how is it that they stayed back conveniently in the country, and one of them still had just enough guts to woo, date, and propose to the person they kidnapped, knowing the risk?
Benjamin quickly transitions from the sweet boyfriend who will do anything for the woman he loves to a cold kidnapper, rapist and drunk in a space of how many days again? The entire premise of the kidnap isn’t strong enough, or perhaps it isn’t portrayed well enough to have us sold.
There are elements of the story that don’t readily add up too, like how Tess suddenly disappears from the story having masterminded the kidnap in the first place or how Omoni Oboli‘s character, who was supposed to be Donald’s girlfriend, becomes at ease with Donald’s involvement with Cassy and even offers him relationship advice at some point, or how there were other co-workers in on the kidnap plan but who refused to tell the police even after several murders.
While there are so many stars and some really good acting, the storyline is weak and awfully long, making it a struggle to sustain one’s interest. The conclusion , in particular, is a huge letdown: the girl thinks long and hard after learning the truth, deciding not to tell the police, then wakes up one morning and does. The end? Why put us through the unnecessary suspense?
It appears that in a bid to have a complicated and somewhat deep story, the writer may have gotten lost in his plot, causing his characters to wander off on a tangent, and not knowing where to stop. This would explain why the movie veers off focus every now and then, initially attempting to be comical with Ann’s uncle (Ime Bishop Umoh) doing a hilarious display, then moves to a not-so-believable sack and sickness, and then the back and forth of the kidnap. The movement from one segment to the next isn’t fluid, and so feels like many stories merged into one.
Kidnap is one of those movies you might need to watch in installments. It tries to be daring, but its predictable telenovela-like story won’t let it be great.
2 stars of 5.