Bank Alert is a comedy drama with an intriguing storyline. The financially distressed protagonist receives a whopping sum of money in his bank account which leads to trouble when the supposed owner comes for him. In a chaotic twist, our protagonist must juggle more than his newfound wealth. He runs helter-skelter, joining forces with the frantic protagonists of Sugar Rush and Ololade, and forming an unintentional squad of financial misadventurers desperately seeking refuge.
Directed by Akay Mason (Day of Destiny), the film introduces a fresh perspective to the sudden wealth trope, infusing it with a unique blend of suspense and well-curtailed humour. Bank Alert shares the same plot as Kayode Kasum’s 2019 comedy-drama Sugar Rush and the new Netflix series Ololade, two contemporary Nigerian projects that have examined the actions of low-income earners when hit with mysterious wealth. But unlike Sugar Rush’s let-down convoluted third act which ruined the brilliance of its first and second acts, Bank Alert‘s third impressively complements the simple but delightful story.
Enriched with experienced actors and a decent screenplay, Bank Alert guides us through a tale of hardship, conflict, fortune, and misfortunes, disrupting the lives of all involved. With the absence of the embellishments of Sugar Rush, the filmmakers have a better grasp on the film’s plot which aids the actors’ perfromances since little to no energy is demanded.
The movie takes us on an enthralling journey with Sammy Okereke, played convincingly by Okey Bakassi, a financially beleaguered ex-banker grappling with debts and family responsibilities. The plot takes an unexpected turn when Okereke stumbles upon a staggering #500 million in his bank account, injecting a thrilling dose of suspense and intrigue.
Halfway through, the film almost collapses on itself in a protracted scene where Okerereke visits his friend Uche’s (Kanayo O. Kanayo) office. They jovially talk about his financial difficulties before Uche advises him to seek a loan from a bank. Fortunately, the scene would become a crucial dramatic impact that leads to the activation of Okereke’s dormant bank account and the discovery of a whopping sum of money.
With well-developed characters, the actors believably enact their roles. At first, it feels like the other star cast are sleepwalking, leaving Okey Bakassi and Kanayo O. Kanayo to shoulder the first half of the film, which prioritizes atmosphere, character development, and subtle nuances over excessively fast-paced action or immediate gratification. Modestus, played by Uzor Arukwe, becomes upset when he learns that Okereke received his money, and leads his gang to beat up Uche and kidnap Chichi, the daughter of Okereke and his wife Jade (Kate Henshaw-Nuttal). The supporting cast elevates their performances, turning it into more than a typical comedy drama.
Notably, Okey Bakassi’s charismatic portrayal of Sammy Okereke is devoid of comedic excesses and adds a magnetic charm to the film. Uzor Arukwe’s Modestus commands the screen, reprising his role as a formidable gang leader, drawing parallels to the intensity of his role as seen in Sugar Rush. Bolanle Ninolowo’s portrayal of Jantamanta adds comical and fierce depth to the plot, steering us through a thrilling quest to rescue Okerekere’s abducted daughter as Modestus strives to reclaim his misdirected fortune of #500 million from Sammy Okereke.
The screenplay, penned by Lucky Emmanuel Igbomor, weaves together uncomplicated plot twists and amusing dialogue. The pacing of Bank Alert is brisk, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment. The collaboration between Jade’s father (Taiwo Hassan), a retired military man, and Jantamanta, the head of a local vigilante group in the planning and execution of the rescue sequences of Okereke’s kidnapped daughter is commendable, creating a sense of realism that adds to the suspense.
The film teeters on the edge of becoming intense and haunting, particularly as it transforms into a cat-and-mouse dynamic between Modestus and Okereke. When Okereke seeks refuge with his cousin Jantamanta, a creepy guy who can match Modestus’s disturbing character, we are teased for a treat but the film lets us down by playing too safe.
Visually, Bank Alert is a treat. The cinematography captures the tension and excitement of the story, utilizing dynamic camera angles and stylish visuals. The film’s soundtrack is a blend of Afrobeats and the Igbo’s Ogene, which complements the on-screen actions. The music builds tension during key moments and provides a rhythm that intensifies the overall viewing experience.
Market-driven motives led to the promotion of Bank Alert as a comedy. Yet, despite its lighthearted tone, the film doesn’t fit that genre. Instead, it unfolds as a crime drama marked by a simple ambition. Laced with humour, the film seamlessly weaves suspense and action while spotlighting the infiltration of cybercriminals in the Nigerian banking sector, and the hardship in the country. It also examines the repercussions of newfound wealth and the get-rich-quick syndrome in our society, delivering an exciting narrative.
With everything neatly tied up and no unresolved issues or lingering concerns, Bank Alert is an enjoyable comedy crime drama that successfully stands out in a genre saturated with clichés. With its engaging plot, modest performances, and technical finesse, the film is a deserved watch for fans of a lighthearted film infused with socially conscious messages.
Bank Alert premiered on November 24, 2023, in cinemas.
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- Kanayo O. Kanayo’s Uche is hungry for wealth and lavishly spends more of the money than Okey Bakassi, a moral man with a modest lifestyle.
- With his brilliant performance in Sugar Rush and Bank Alert, Uzor Arukwe is becoming the Nollywood go-to man for the comedy-drama heist.
- Though Bolanle Ninalowo’s gang excellently helps the film tie up the loose end, his showdown with Arukwe would have been better in the climactic scene.