There is a high possibility that the writer, producer and co-director of Devil in Agbada, Chinneylove Eze, is an avid fan of Hollywood action movies or maybe she is a fan of Charlie’s Angels and just couldn’t refrain from making a movie about three badass women who are fighting for justice. Devil in Agbada opens with some armed men forcing a man to sign some documents whilst his wife is held at gunpoint, an unpleasant encounter which their daughter (Linda Osifo) witnesses and watches helplessly as her parents are killed by these armed men. In the same vein, Tomi (Erica Nlewedim), whose mother died because her house was seized and demolished, and in an attempt to recover her mother’s house, is defiled by a nefarious man. Likewise, Okiki (Efe Irele), the daughter of a politician who is molested just because her father happens to work for the wrong man. All these criminal acts are orchestrated by just one man, the devil himself, Otunba Shonibare (Akin Lewis), the man who is planning to be the next governor of the state. Now these victims of Otunba’s immoral acts, each with a sad story of how he ruined their lives and brought them unending pain, decide to come together, devise a plan and bring the ‘devil’ down. This sets off a chain of turbulent events that pervades the movie as these three women with a common enemy work together to bring down this devil disguise of a man.
Personally, I find solace in characters when I watch movies that do little or nothing to captivate or draw my attention. In Devil in Agbada, Akin Lewis’s impressive display of a corrupt politician is soothing to watch. He embodies his role with such flair and aptitude that he wouldn’t have done much in any other role given to him. Beyond his performance, there’s nothing much to see in Devil in Agbada other than a movie which tries so hard to fall into the Hollywood trope. While watching the movie, I theorized that this movie imitated Hollywood montages so much, in order to gain an entry at the next Oscars Award. In most Neo-nollywood movies, using bland and tacky dialogue is the norm, hence it makes the screenwriter come off as a person who lacks the extra yard of creativity to elevate the script beyond other iterations that we have seen in the past. In the case of Devil in Agbada, old lines are imitated and overused, making the dialogues in the movie reek of cliché remarks, thereby lacking originality.
Devil in Agbada would have been a better movie if only certain events depicted in the movie were plausible or perhaps, achievable in Nigeria. In a scene where Okiki, the daughter of Otunba Shonibare’s P.A (played by Desmond Eliot) is granting an interview with the media, slandering the name of Otunba and telling the whole world why he shouldn’t run or be voted for as Governor of the State, his reaction is too indifferent. How can you see your PA’s daughter dragging your name in the mud, an action that can possibly prevent you from winning the election, yet you’re not fuming and threatening to sack your PA? Instead, your PA says he would handle the situation and that was it. I know about the moral decadence and rot in Nigeria’s political scene but I bet no politician, no Nigerian politician will sit and watch “a small rat” try to ruin their political ambition. Let’s just overlook this event, maybe not silencing the daughter of his P.A means he respects his employee so much that he would risk his political ambition for him. But this same man killed his wife to fuel his political ambition, well, how do you explain that? The directors, Umanu Elijah and Chinneylove Eze, were so hellbent on making a ‘trio’ of scorned women, that they forgot Otunba is supposed to be depicted as the devil himself.
The 1 hr 55 min movie drops its ace in the card towards the end of the movie and what ought to be the ‘baddest’ showdown in ‘cinematic history’ turns out to be a shoddy performance with inauthentic action sequences. The three ‘punishers’ in the movie work out, train in martial arts and the art of boxing, in order to prepare themselves for the war with the devil. I can’t even delve into the display of their fighting skills; just the thought of it makes me cringe. The directors did a lousy job in this aspect, as what should be the most thrilling and important part of the movie falls flat and seems insignificant in the long run. The action sequence is accompanied with earsplitting noise (probably the type of sound effects used in action movies in the 50’s); a means employed by the sound editor just to make viewers know that each punch lands on its victim.
Chinneylove Eze intends to portray women as a higher power with the capacity to bring even the most powerful people down. We have seen that in the story of Delilah and Samson and cinematically with the likes of Natasha Romanoff, Lara Croft, Charlie’s Angels, among others. However, in Devil in Agbada, the directors employ cheap and unrealistic antics to achieve their goals. The concluding part of the movie is the final nail in the coffin due to the unrealistic release of a criminal who murdered a powerful man, a man the directors themselves portrayed as the devil, which is a final scene that sullied the whole movie just so they could shoot a scene where the three ‘punishers’ cruise on a speed boat and rejoice about the end of a corrupt man.
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- The sensei, who taught the three ‘punishers’ the art of combat, fights against 4 or more men at the end of the movie. That single scene makes the entire movie feel more like a comedy rather than an action movie.
- I played a game of completing their lines before they even finished it and it was quite hilarious but at least I enjoyed that bit while watching the movie. I chuckled when I completed Linda Osifo’s “I am in…” sentence before she could utter it. And speaking of that scene, it was a really poor transition to the preceding scenes.
- Akin Lewis’s villainous role in the movie made the catastrophe a little bit worthwhile.
Devil in Agbada is currently in theatres.