Sisters in arms Chike (Adesua Etomi-Wellington) and Grace (Kehinde Bankole) grace our screens as Inkblot releases the sequel to the 2019 installment of the franchise. The stakes are higher in The Set Up 2 as it has become a high-end espionage venture with Chike and Grace facing off a new villain in Usi (Nancy Isime), one of the madam’s former hench ladies. Chike now works for the American government as a security agent, as part of her sentence for drug trafficking, Grace is married with a kid while Madam (Tina Mba) is in prison.
Chike returns to Nigeria as part of a joint operation between the U.S government and the Department of Security of Nigeria to capture an illegal arms dealer. She gets embroiled in bigger issues as a terrorist organisation Ultio, named after the Roman goddess of vengeance, kidnaps Grace’s daughter and blackmails Chike into taking on a mission for them while the DOS is breathing down her back to help them capture Usi, 2nd in command of Ultio and bring down the group. Grace, Chike and new sidekick Obiora (Stan Nze) team up with old friend Edem (Jim Iyke) as they go against Usi.
The Set Up 2 starts on a light note as Chike and Obiora exchange funny banter and go on a mission they complete with relative ease in a Clouseau-Ponton-esque (Pink Panther) manner. One would be forgiven for thinking this is an action-comedy movie at first but as the film progresses it gets more serious and the mood starts to match the severity of the action. Chinaza Onuzo (The Perfect Arrangement) takes complete charge of The Set Up 2, doubling as writer and director of the sequel; a story he tries to bring to life by focusing on the thrills, although there are lapses here and there. It’s evident that heart and will are in the right place, it’s just that the execution could have been better. In filmmaking, it’s the little details that make a film rounded and complete; when left out, there will be gaps that make the story disjointed.
The plot is set rolling with a well-done montage that refreshes our memories of the prequel and gives first-time viewers a glimpse into the background of the plot and characters, but the lapses start to set in: Chike and Obiora swim to the location of their mission with just their swimsuits but miraculously have a change of clothes waiting for them on land. New characters are also not properly introduced, leaving most of them undefined, apart from Usi and Igwe Mackintosh (Blossom Chukwujekwu). We are left wondering who these characters are and what their stakes in the events are. Some characters are even mentioned as if they were a part of the 2019 original and should already be acquainted with; this causes a disconnect from the prequel because it seems like there are events we are not aware of.
While it’s exciting to see the characters fight their way through the plot, most of the action sequences are poorly executed, they do not come off naturally and look poorly choreographed with lethargic movements that make these scenes look ridiculous. For example, when Grace’s family is attacked, and where Chike has to fight a kickboxer to get Mackintosh on their side, two scenes out of many where the fights have obvious winners as soon as they start which does not make for a good film experience.
The Set Up 2 plot is driven by a good story, but mismanagement of plot details ensures that it does not reach its full potential. The film moves and jumps randomly from plot to subplots like particles in Brownian motion. A lot of details that would make the story rounded are left out, creating gaps that cause a disjointed plot and sometimes implausible plot progression— Grace and her husband are not told why their baby is being kidnapped but for some reason, they know it’s because they want to get to Chike; Obiora is oblivious as to how Chike got tickets to an event they were invited to by Edem, one where they are expected by Igwe Mackintosh and other gaps like that. Another issue with the plot is that as interesting as the conflicts are, they never seem to have a concrete premise. Why is Ultio going as far as kidnapping Grace’s baby to make Chike do their bidding when it’s obvious that they could have reached her with other methods to get the same result.
The plot suffers from the story having an incomplete ideology and as it nears the end, it seems to be at its wits’ end and the theme of women empowerment and girl power is conveniently infused to give Chike motivation, a bland and lazy move. Also, an overt attempt to fill every scene with dialogue when actions would be sufficient makes the lines tiring, float away with the wind and the acting look forced. Enjoyable showings by Adesua Etomi (Wedding Party), Kehinde Bankole (Prophetess), Stan Nze (Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story) and Blossom Chukwujekwu (Quam’s Money) give The Set Up 2 an interesting edge while the minor characters (possibly mismanaged by directing and writing) are reduced to extra-like roles and are merely used to fill up scenes.
The film does well in the technical aspect with effective cinematography and score that aid the storytelling and mood but amateurish mistakes are made with the continuity, so noticeable even in a cinema with no playback button, unforgivable mistakes that shouldn’t have been made. Nonetheless, The Set Up 2 is an exciting action thriller and it’s interesting to see Nigerian characters in that kind of plot. Adding Igbo to the dialogue is a nice touch that brings the story closer to home. While the plot of The Set Up 2 might have been confusing at times with actions and twists that seem trope, it is another evidence of gradual growth in Nollywood.
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- After constructive feedback from our readers, we forge ahead with a new internal rating system.
- If the present WKMUp existed in ‘19, our rating for The Set Up 1 would be 5.0/10.
- Great party scene.
- Wizkid does not dress like that.
- Mackintosh, misogynist much?
- All that money in a dump? 😳
- Subtitles, please.
- Why is a prisoner’s visitor entering the prison yard?
- What sort of prison is this?
- So many gunshots in a prison yard and no uproar?
- Goof: Grace is shot in the shoulder but in the hospital, the wound is shown to be on her belly. Also, a glass wound up halfway suddenly becomes wound all the down in the close shot,
- Get ready for part three.
The Set Up 2 is currently in cinemas and will debut on Amazon Prime Video later this year.