Movie Review: Moses Inwang’s ‘Lockdown’ is a Gripping Story that Loses its Spark

Lockdown is a new comedy-drama directed by Moses Inwang. The movie follows the story of different strangers with separate agendas, but similar urgency, locked down in a hospital due to the admittance of a foreign visitor with a contagious disease in that same hospital. All these strangers have urgent matters to attend to inside and outside the hospital. An unforeseen contingency lands a groom (Ben Touitou) and his best man (Jidekene Achufusi), in a hospital; a young lady (Indinma Okojie), has an interview but needs a quick medical checkup; Tony Umez, plays the role of a delivery man who needs to get back to his sick wife; and a young man (played by Josh2Funny) who wins a lottery but suffers an injury that needs immediate attention. 

Four Strangers, One Goal
Image via FilmOne Entertainment

With these characters, it is a case of different strangers with different goals, all crammed in one hospital. But with the admission of patient zero (Oyinbo Rebel), there’s a likelihood that they have been exposed to the virus. However, when the news of this event gets to the NCDC, the police force enforces a shoot on sight order, targeting anyone that tries to exit or enter the hospital. In light of this, they have no choice but to strictly adhere to the mandatory 21-day isolation. With this mandatory guideline, there won’t be an interview for the interviewee; a wedding is out of the question for the groom; the delivery man definitely won’t get back to his sick wife; and the Lotto winner will miss out on the 10 million naira lottery, in what might be the unluckiest case. I mean, he has 4 days to get his money but a mandatory lockdown to abide by.

The opening scenes of Lockdown are really intense and captivating; from the hustle and bustle of the city, the horns from vehicles and people in a hurry to meet their daily plans. Right from the start of the movie, Inwang lures viewers in with these strangers’ urgency to meet up with their respective needs and how they all connect, thus, reeling viewers in for a ride. He does a good job to strike a chord in the viewers and engage them to be a participant in a vivid example of ‘being at the wrong place at the wrong time’. The movie touches on a global issue and brings in a circumstance that any of us could have found ourselves with the recent Coronavirus pandemic. 

Of course, the idea obviously came from the global pandemic that crippled most nations and has proved to be devastating for some. In this case, the virus isn’t called the Coronavirus but the Holo virus. Inwang uses these events to put together an intense comedy-drama and to an extent, he does so perfectly. I really want to avoid using the sentence “most Nollywood movies do this/that”, but I guess it can’t be avoided. Just like Inwang uses a global pandemic to tell a story, he also infuses a major trend that is used in Nollywood. A trend that has to stop. This is the consistent addition of unnecessary scenes and events to make a movie extremely long. The movie is 2hrs 30min long, which is fine, if only they can retain viewers’ attention or the fierceness that the movie started with.

Image via FilmOne Entertainment

As mentioned, the movie begins in an engaging manner, and looking at the plot, it would definitely fit into a 1hr 45min-2hr run time, with good directing and creativity. This little mishap and the director’s inability to vehemently retain the fervor he originally started with is irksome and a kick in the teeth for a movie that would have turned out great. In the long run, it turns out to be boring tiring. I can’t count the number of times I checked my watch just to know when this excessive plot would come to an end. The constant clash between the civilians and the police isn’t really necessary. Once is cool, twice or more— and it becomes bothersome— since we all know how the tussle will end. 

Most of the actors are impressive and they act their part well. I usually have a problem with internet comedians taking up  roles in movies, especially if it is a comedic role. They tend to exaggerate which reduces the effect of their jokes on viewers. However, Josh Alfred (Josh2Funny) does a good job to reflect the image of a character who will be in quarantine for 21 days but is bound to lose millions of naira if he does not cash out in 4 days (this is what they call the doings of the village people). In the case of a celebrity that cannot act, Paul Okoye’s minor role as TV anchor, falls into this category, a role that can be done perfectly by a lot of people. I know he needs to read a script but must he make it seem like he is actually reading one? But let’s just leave it at that.

In the case of Chioma Akpotha (Omo Ghetto), she embodies the true symbol of a Nigerian nurse. Think of their constant bickering and rudeness, and then, there is Akpotha who plays it to perfection. Finally, Nollywood veteran, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde who plays the role of the head doctor, Alexis Njoku, would have perfected her role if given good directions. However, from the little charisma she shows in Lockdown, one could fathom that she is a good actor, but does little to nail her role as the head of the hospital. A virus outbreak is a matter of urgency and immediate action since the lives of many people rest on her hands. 

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde in Lockdown

Image via FilmOne Entertainment

However, Dr. Alexis Njoku meets with patient zero without using a glove or a body suit. In this case, I expected her to go into isolation and if she doesn’t want to do that because she needs to give directives to the nurses, a body suit will do. But nah, she walks around the hospital like there isn’t a virus outbreak. I really do not know much about medical procedures to take when an outbreak happens, but I am sure medical professionals will have a good time tearing this movie apart in that aspect. Also, the movie falls into the predictable trope, using a snapshot of scenes to denote that the interviewee and the groom are spending so much time together. Most viewers, if not all, could predict the ending for those two (it was so cringey). However, these little setbacks cannot be used to downgrade the performance of some of the actors nor does it take away the fact that Inwang did a satisfying job.

In Lockdown, Inwang also doubles as a co-writer. His cleverness comes with how he makes all the characters’ stories intertwine and bound by a common goal (to leave the hospital). Also, he got the perfect actors to play some of the characters portrayed in the movie, with the likes of Sola Sobowale who plays the bride’s mother, and Jidekene Achufusi, the groom’s friend. Despite all this, the film’s dialogue is a let-down. The dialogues were below par and it seemed like they were summarising the same information over and over again. At one point, I just couldn’t refrain from saying “you’ve said that before” while watching the movie. In spite of the cheesy dialogues, the imperfection of some actors and the input of unnecessary scenes, Lockdown is a good movie and I don’t think you would mind spending your 1k to watch it at the cinema, but do not spend your last 1k.

Rating: 6/10

Side Musings

  • No matter how effective the police force is depicted in a movie, Nigerians will either roll their eyes or hiss at the sight of the seriousness they try to convey in any movie. The police force even came with snipers and walkie-talkies. The virus is a matter of life or death but still, they need to calm their tit down.
  • One of the snipers’ hand was shaking at a point and I doubt that should ever happen😅.
  • When will they make  a movie where Sola Sobowale doesn’t shout or maybe they have made one and I haven’t seen it. But I love her anyway.
  • Goof: On the morning of the interview, the company that the interviewee visited had a ‘no mask no entry’ policy pasted right in front of the gate. I guess there was a virus outbreak before the Holo Virus, they just forgot to mention it.

Lockdown is currently in theatres.