In recent years, one of the most committed crimes in Nigeria has been kidnapping, with an increase in the number of reported kidnapping cases, including a recent high profile case where passengers on an Abuja to Kaduna train were attacked and kidnapped. The kidnapped victims were not released to their families until hefty sums of ransom were paid to secure their release. I can’t say if I feel like The Trade couldn’t have come at a better time, because of the current state of insecurity in the country and how it captures a possible scenario, but it does address a social issue well.
The Trade is another crime drama written, produced and directed by Jade Osiberu (Brotherhood). Dike Maduka (Blossom Chukwujekwu), known simply as Eric by his cohorts, is an elusive kidnap kingpin that has evaded arrest for almost 2 decades whilst running probably the most successful kidnapping operation ever in the country. Eric’s mode of operation has confounded the police who have been unable to trail his activities. Eric evades capture until a mercurial police officer and head of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Superintendent Khalid Abubakar (Ali Nuhu), leads an investigation into his case. Assisting his capture is a kidnap operation gone wrong of a rich business woman (Rita Dominic).
Although it is not explicitly stated by the producing team, the plot of The Trade is similar to the story of Evans the billionaire kidnapper, whose arrest rocked the news in 2017. There are many similarities in the film to the story of Evans, from their real names (Evans – Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, Eric- Dike Maduka), the mode of Eric’s operations, the nature of the character, Eric’s preference to flee to Ghana and eerily, the appearance. The Trade is a biopic whose subject is an open secret (or a badly kept one?). Maybe this has been done to guard against an unnecessary glorification and idolization of such a heinous character as is a common result when films like this are made.
Co-producer David Musa stated in an interview that the production of the film was a process that took a whopping four years. With more than enough time to prepare, make the appropriate research and a rich source material (based on a true story), The Trade is a film that is properly executed. It is a film that is made carefully, with an adequate but not over-ambitious plot that is shot in a relatable manner. The Trade resists the temptation to devolve into an action-filled film but instead focuses more on the character and the progression of the plot. This helps it to retain its soul, leading viewers to be more invested in the story.
An interesting aspect of the film is how they are able to depict a twisted criminal mastermind, attempting to help us delve into the workings of his mind. We see Eric go home to his wife and kids after extorting huge ransom from another parent whose child his gang had kidnapped. He transforms from a fearsome criminal to a loving father and partner even though sometimes the fearsome criminal makes some rude interruptions. The film is also able to show several sides of the police— the higher and more polished officers of the higher ranks who tackle designated crime cases, their counterparts who ruin their efforts by colluding with criminals and the dregs of the force who patrol the streets and forget their primary duty at the flash of currency.
Also helping The Trade to be more enjoyable is the focus on originality, there are no attempts to overblow scenarios or unnecessarily embellish situations or characters to make them more exciting and thrilling. The thick Igbo accent used by several of the characters is joyful to the ears and it aids the actors to in embodying their roles better. The acting performances are enjoyable, the cast put in a good shift, all of them in sync with each other and the plot.
Notable performances include Blossom Chukwujekwu (The Set Up 2), Shawn Faqua (The Blood Covenant), Gideon Okeke (Palava) and Ali Nuhu (Amina). Although the intensity of the acting of some of the cast does not fit the severity of the situation sometimes, evident in characters like superintendent Abubakar played by Ali Nuhu (probably done to deflect the credit for Eric’s capture from the police).
Although The Trade sometimes moves too slowly and the subtitles are insufficient as a considerable part of the dialogue is delivered in Igbo, which leaves a lot of information lost to the wind, it is still as interesting as it is captivating.
The Trade is now streaming on Prime Video.
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- Personally, I do not like when the acts or stories of contemptible villains are documented in films and other forms of media, I’d rather they be forgotten in time to reduce the risk of their exploits inspiring other people with similar mindsets.
- It’s not a biopic, wink wink.
- Why does this Chike look alike always look forlorn in movies.
- Fear women
- Nice pyrotechnics
- The dolly shot at the end could have been more properly done to capture the tone of that moment.
- It could have been better titled.