BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Starring some of Nollywood’s finest newcomers, The Department tells the story of a department (obviously) in an organization known as Titan Manufacturing Co-operation that specializes in using coercion and blackmail to acquire other businesses for their company headed by Chief Yinka Salako, popularly known as ‘Chief’.
Nnamdi and Tolu, key members of the department who are in love, decide to get married and leave the life of crime and start a new life together in Ibadan, but when they can’t seem to make as much progress as they anticipated in their new life, Tolu is lured back to the department for one major takeover. When Nnamdi tries to stop her, his life is threatened by Segun, Chief’s right-hand man. He gets frantic and tries to sabotage the operation using a common enemy, Mr Effiong, who was once a victim of another hostile takeover and was brought in as Head of Logistics at TMC. The plan seems to backfire when he is caught and ordered to be killed.
I like this story. It’s not an entirely novel idea, but it’s not common in an industry like Nollywood, because while movie producers are ambitious, they are quite lazy in terms of research, and so rarely attempt corporate movies like this one. The department, however, pulls it off and does a fine job at it. It sells the organization and sells its cast well to the audience as knowing what they are talking about.
Osas Ighodaro Ajibade, who plays the major role, Tolu, is The Department’s leading light. She delivers her role impeccably and there’s no phoniness to her acting. Majid Michael is cast as Nnamdi and just when I am about to ask what the producers were thinking, he manages to put up a good act as well, complimenting his costar. Do I think a different person might have done better? Yes, I do, especially in scenes where he is supposed to speak in pidgin or throw in some Ibo but he keeps looking like a garden scarecrow.
The way OC Ukeje embodies his bad guy characters in movies makes villainous roles very attractive. As Segun in the department, he employs cynicism and aggression at different times and boy, do they all fit him nicely! Kenneth Okolie also stands out; dude continues to prove film after film that he is more than a fine face and washboard abs.
Jide Kosoko takes on the predictable role of Chief. Strangely, he seems, at different points in the movie, to struggle with his script and his English. That’s too much struggle for one man. It would be nice to see the veteran do something other than big-man roles for a change. I hate Nollywood’s stereotype sometimes. Seun Akindele, Desmond Elliot, Somkele Iyama, Funky Mallam…they all play their parts well. Personally, I think May Owen is perhaps one of Nollywood’s most underappreciated actresses. Having seen her in more than five movies now, donning her divergent roles with grace and ease, one would have thought she’d be adorning headlines already.
There are not many downers in The Department, which is a relief. The end isn’t as believable in its execution as its beginning and this waters down the general overview of the movie, leaving on you a not very strong impression. That notwithstanding, the storyline is compact enough to conceal gaping holes and peeping underpants. The story is also moderately seasoned, sweet enough to sustain your interest and not take you down the sleepy road. Remi Vaughan-Richards scores points with his directing in this 2015 film produced by Uduak Oguamanam and Chinaza Onuzo. The music is fantastic, and the general production quality is thumbs-up-worthy.