BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
The first thing you notice about 2015 movie, Gbomo Gbomo Express is the way the camera is set, brandishing a shiny cutlass to cut off heads and faces. It is almost too obvious someone behind the camera is either distracted or just does not know how to put his camera to good use. The scenes are dark, perhaps too dark. But going by the movie’s theme, you excuse it as a style.
Gbomo Gbomo Express tells the story of three friends, Francis, Blessing and Filo, who start out as petty thieves but move on to fry the bigger fish of kidnapping. It is also a story of Austin, owner of a record label. He has an assistant, Rotimi, who plans with a begrudging musician from the record label, Nino, to dupe him. Francis and his gang are given a job to kidnap Austin, which they do, but also kidnap a lady he picked up at the club, Cassandra.
The storyline touches on real issues with humor splattered all over it. At virtually every point in the movie, something makes you giggle. The plot is rich and does not give room for idle chattering, as everything said and done is deliberate and is relevant to the grand scheme, which would mean good screenwriting.
But the purposes do not all add up, leaving room for holes like teeth-wrecking stones in a meal of fried rice. The flashbacks beat about the bush, and are at different points, confusing. In one, we see Cassandra fleeing from her potential captors like a sprinter at the Olympics. In another we see her walking away in wobbly movements. There is also the clichéd greed-centered shooting among thieves I have seen and read about a thousand times in my lifetime, and I’m not even that old. The sudden twist forced into it in the end is like ill-fitting underpants that keep falling. Austin’s seemingly seamless scheming does not even slightly sell us. A man plans his own kidnapping, and makes sure he is kidnapped alongside a rich girl who would cough out fifty million Naira that turns out to be thirty million dollars. Yes, we can assume he has stalked the girl well enough to know she’d be at the night club, but did he also plant the annoying ex-lover who drove her to him? Did he plan the attempted escape and the need to become a savior so he can win Cassandra’s trust? It is an ambitious plot, I admit, but it focuses too much on the twist at the end that it loses its believability.
Casting the likes of Alexx Ekubo and Kenneth Okoli is a ploy to make the movie sell, as they both play very insignificant roles. It is hard not to notice the uncoincidental Tinsel ensemble. Gideon Okeke as Francis is ruthless yet tender, hilarious yet serious. He finds that his girl has cheated on him, but shows his love even in his anger. Gideon gives a performance away from his usual rebellious rich kid persona in Tinsel (one he has carried with him to other movies), to a more human character with a wry sense of humor. Kiki Omeili as Blessing goes all out with her ‘Waffi-ness’ and while Gbenro Ajibade tries too hard as Filo, he makes us laugh the most. Ramsey Noah as Austin is disappointing. He doesn’t give his best and it shows. Osas Ajibade is believable as Cassandra, but offers nothing new. Shaffy Bello as Alexis makes the movie glow with her poise and flowery big-woman accent. Blossom Chukwujekwu and Ikechukwu are Rotimi and Nino respectively. They are not exceptional but help fill the film.
Written and directed by Walter Taylaur, Gbomo Gbomo Express could have been more. But it isn’t. It is what it is; a film about a con artist that does not have us sold but makes us laugh. Its plot is rich but holey, and while its camera dances, its soundtracks stay on point.