Review of Kunle Folayan’s The CEO
Before I review this movie, I would like to yake a moment to give kudos to Kunle Afolayan. Some time ago Nollywood Director Obi Emenloye broke the record by being the 1st to premiere a Nollywood movie at the BFI Cinema in London. However, Kunle Afolayan has taken Nollywood to another level by premiering The CEO on Air France on its flight from Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos to Paris. This is Nollywood at another level. Weel done sir. Just in case you do not believe, watch the trailer yourself.
Now let us review the movie.
Kunle Afolayan’s movie The CEO was screened at the Vue Cinema Leicester Square on Thursday 27th October 2016. The movie as said earlier had been premiered aboard Air France and at Paris. The red carpet was graced by members of the cast and crew, members of Nollywood UK, dignitaries from the UK and abroad as well as fans of Kunle Afolayan and the Nollywood industry. The red carpet was full of pump and pageantry with a special section reserved for the VIPs. One thing that thrilled me was that on every seat at the cinema, there was a bottle of water and a bag of popcorn so every guest was able to enjoy the movie. The movie started a bit behind schedule (but who cares) with a welcome and introduction of Kunle by a representative of Air France UK. Kunle then welcomed everybody and hoped they enjoyed the movie. At the end of the movie, the crew were presented and there were questions and answers. In a bid not to be biased, http://www.babso.org does not wait to listen to questions and answers so that they are not swayed in their review.
Storyline: The CEO tells the story of five corporate executives at a multinational telecoms company who are selected to attend a retreat in order to determine who will become the company’s new CEO in Nigeria. However, things take a turn when, one-by-one, some of the executives turn up dead, injured or have a bereavement
The executives Kola (Wale Ojo), Yasmin (Fatym Layachi), Riikard (Nico Panagio), Eloise (Auriele Eliam) and Jomo (Peter King) all have a skeleton or two in their closets that could potentially hamper their chances of becoming the next CEO. Each of their secrets are revealed in an almost systemic manner, through the help of nerve-racking game of musical chairs and Dr. Zimmerman (Angelique Kidjo) who is there on behalf of the telecoms company to help determine who, amongst the executives, should be given the coveted job of CEO. It is a story of intrigue, power, trust and political and financial struggles of the modern day Africa. The film was shot on the outskirts of Lagos and other African locations as well as in Paris. I must say that I was fooled by the eventual outcome and predicted the wrong person to get the job as CEO.
Bearing in mind the story that the writer Tunde Babalola was trying to bring out, I think the story ended on the right note. The message was that of corruption not only amongst Nigerians but as far back as the Chinese. People tend to think that only Nigerians are corrupt, but even the Chinese or indeed the Americans or the British would do anything to protect their interests and that to me was the ethos of the story.
The movie has other languages such as French and Chinese spoken and as such people had to understand what was being said. The subtitles was top class and people were able to follow what was being said at the appropriate time.
Cast: The cast included five are Kola (Wale Ojo), a Nigerian. Wale to me was popular in the series “The Adebanjos” a comedy about a Nigerian family in the UK. He has since appeared in a series of Nollywood movies. I think that whoever casted the roles got the right person for that role. Wale was able to carry the audience as a playboy and a confidant of his fellow contestants. One would believe Wale could speak Chinese in the end. Well done!!
Also there is Eloise (Auriele Eliam), the Ivorian, with a sick husband. She was reluctant to take up the challenge but prodded by her husband, she comes to Nigeria where an indiscretion leads to tragedy. I have not seen her in any movie before but her simplicity and innocence in the movie also made her the perfect choice for that role.
Jomo (Peter King) is Kenyan. He was presented as an inveterate gambler who had been stealing money from his company’s account. Scared of being found out, Jomo’s paranoia leads to tragedy. Again, I have not seen him in any movie, but although he played the role he was asked to, I think (and I may be wrong) that he could have been a bit more convincing. I am not sure if he has that much experience in acting such lead roles and I have not bothered to google him so as not to change my thoughts about him, but to me, he needs to perfect his acts to be on the big scene.
Yasmine (Fatym Layachi) is French. Based in Nigeria, she has been fingered in a deal gone sour and the authority’s interest in her leads to disastrous consequences. Although this was more of a collaboration of different nationalities, again I do not think that Fatym is experienced enough for this kind of movie. Some of her lines came out as crammed as opposed to actually being convinced. It was obvious she was French. Watching some of the top Nollywood movies and trying to understand the characters would be helpful. To me one thing I look at in a character is if they are in character and can convince the actual audience. I have watched films by Will Smith and he takes time to study the character he is playing and anyone that watches him believes him in that role. That I believe was lacking with Fatym. That said, I still give her kudos for her efforts.
Riikard (Nico Panagio) is the South African wunderkind. Cocky and without a care, he says he is in it to win it. Again I have not seen him in any movie before, but being cocky, he played the role well, but I think in parts of the movie, he could have taken a break and slowed down.
And then there is the talented Lisa (Kemi Lala Akindoju). What can I say about her? She was the mousy HR executive who though she looked quiet and professional was in fact dangerous and a mole. She delivers a wallop by movie end. Could not believe it. I think she was the best person for the role.
Then there was the Nollywood returnee, Superintendent Ebenezer (Hilda Dokubo) fresh from a tour of duty as a government appointee. Her police detective role is invigoratingly flesh and recalls not just Sadiq Daba’s Inspector Waziri character in October 1 but also Frances McDormand’s pregnant detective character in the Coen Brothers’ vehicle, Fargo. Her wealth of experience came to being in the role she played and she kept the audience laughing with such statements as put your yansh down. She played the role of an old time police officer that had been in the role for over two decades and she was not even used to a computer but preferred the old typewriter. I think and in my view she was the perfect person for the role. Well done!!
Jean-marc (Jimmy Jeane-Louise) was the sick husband of Louise who persuaded her to travel to Nigeria. Although his role was not lead, he must be commended as he played his role well. Particularly, I like where he watched Louise and Kola make love before he passed on. Well done.
Dr. Zimmerman (Angelique Kidjo) was an outstanding member of the cast. She made it clear that she had some unconventional methods and she played the role perfectly. She showed no empathy and was there strictly for business. I do not see many people who could have fitted in her shoes and played the role so well. Again, I give her a big kudos.
I think on the whole, the balance in the cast lead and supporting was good. The collaboration is also commended. Getting a good cast from 4 or 5 nations is not that easy especially when they have to speak their languages and then fit into a Nollywood plot. I say a big well done to Kunle and the Casting Director if there was one.
Sound Quality: In my view, the sound quality was good for the context of the movie. Unlike in most movies, there were no noticeable external sound interferences. In my view, the sound effects used in various scenes were also good. On the whole, I think the sound was good.Picture Quality: This is one area where most of the Nollywood movies miss it. However, in this movie in all five or so countries including Nigeria not only were the locations right, but the pictures were clear and the cinematography projected the intent of the movie. This movie showed the good side of Lagos, Nigeria which is not usually depicted in documentaries shown by the BBC, ITV or Channel 4. The pictures were not out of frame and generally good.
Overall performance: I was so impressed with the level of professionalism and experience that was shown in the entire production. This included the directing, the script (written by Tunde Babalola) and I believe that the entire production was ridden with excellence and was well executed. The movie was very easy to follow. I exceptionally love how the writer infused different tribes and languages in Africa. Also, all the locations that were used in the movie were on point. As I stated earlier, the sub titles were on point.
From production to post production, there was consistency and the transition was smooth. In my view, yhere was depth and meaning to the script.
As a movie critic, I will have to say this is one great movie, and I would be recommending it. You need to watch this. As was the case for October 1st, I would recommend that the movie be made available on Netflix after they have left the cinemas. All that is left to say is well done to Kunle and his entire cast and crew for another successful movie.
Watch the trailer: