Niyi Akinmolayan’s latest movie, The Set Up produced by Inkblot is the current toast of Nigerian cinema and with the hype from its trailer to ads, it’s only a matter of days before the big figures start rolling in.
On a grand scale, this movie will get a 6/10. It’s no average Nollywood production. The quality of its picture is above par. Set design, costuming, makeup and scoring are also high point earners.
However, The Set Up’s biggest win is its cinematography. It is beautifully cinematic and attempts to push the movie’s agenda as much as it could manage.
Its story, on the other hand, is a shot in the leg. The attempt to infuse it with as much loosely woven plot twists and resolution is the movie’s undoing. This is primarily because it starts its audience with so much promise but leaves them hanging with its numerous loopholes. For a story with suspense as its major narrative tool, it left very little to be guessed.
With as little spoilers as possible, The Set Up follows the tale of Chike (Adesua Etomi Wellington) and Grace (Kehinde Bankole) who find themselves caught in a manipulative web spun by Enitan (Tina Mba).
If you are expecting to see Adesua kick ass, Kung Fu style, the clip from the trailer is all you’ll ever get.
At the base of The Set Up is the plot to bring the wife of deceased banker Tunde Elesho, to her knees over a two decade old vendetta. Her unassuming weapon is Motunrayo Elesho (Dakore Akande) heiress to the Daraja multimillion empire.
The movie’s key players in no particular order are Adesua Etomi, Tina Mba, Dakore Akande, Jim Iyke, Joke Silva and Kehinde Bankole. Unfortunately, this list of fine actors find a way to end up delivering near lifeless performances with exceptions only to Adesua, Joke Silva and Jim Iyke.
Jim Iyke clearly as the actor’s Wesley Snipes days are long gone. Emotionally dead but fashionably woke characters are his forte now.
Akinmolayan might be what we like to call a technical director. Undoubtedly, The Wedding party 2 director has an eye for creating a fairly believable cinematic universe. His understanding of cinematic colours, angles are impressive but when it comes to pushing his actors to realistic performance, his skill takes several steps back and it is obvious in the actor performance in The Set Up.
The director’s most prominent character, Enitan is the worst hit by his inexperience. poorly executed. Enitan (played by Tina Mba), is a ruthless villain who is driven by revenge and greed. For the most part of the scenes that introduce the audience to a Enitan, Mba’s role is catchy enough to keep one averagely entertained.
As the story develops, you’ll realize how poorly developed this character is. The filmmakers burden us with the same version of Mba to play her young and old self, complete with streaks of grey hair and conflicting reactions that barely reflect the character she embodies.
Those scenes, you’ll discover, should have been the turning point for how the audience sees Enitan. Why offer a well-rounded view of villain that isn’t quite fulfilling?
Disappointingly, the movie is not detail-driven enough to make a mark. It is ridiculous to expect that the audience dots your (filmmaker) I’s and crosses your T’s. All the facts need to be on the table with little or no room for assumptions.
For a story as exciting as The Set Up, detailing is key to unfolding the motion picture paradise promised by the trailer. Dakore’s character presumably drowns but the audience is surprisingly left out of how this happens. Nigerians getting immunity for crimes committed in Nigeria.
If a sequel is ever in view, The Set Up’s makers can attempt importing full-time strippers. The club’s ladies made me shudder in places I might be too ashamed to name.