Living in bondage breaking free tells the story of Nnamdi Okeke who wants riches, influence, power and everything a good man can get from life. The film is a sequel to the 1992 original classic, living in bondage which was regarded as one of the films that changed Nollywood positively. 

The classic is a delicate masterpiece such that anyone who dares to pick it up must match the legendary status that comes with it. Should they fail, the audience would give them a public thrashing. But if they were to succeed, they will attain a godlike status and will be propelled into Nollywood limelight

With this in mind, when news broke that an unknown production company had bought the rights of this classic, there was a cloud of uncertainty in the air. It all felt the lashing route was going to happen even though nobody had seen the project but Charles Opaleke (CEO of play network) proved everyone wrong.

Veteran actor Ramsey Nouah who he chose as the director as well as the whole team brilliantly produced a 2-hour movie that complements the original. Nouah was able to pull off a challenging feat of not tainting peoples’ memory of the classic. 

He ran the theme of ‘Nothing is what it seems’ throughout the course of the film, showcased great production design and he definitely deserves all the accolades and awards he gets

The acting performances, dashing cinematography, good use of soundtrack and overall artistry are some of the few things that made this picture solid.  These flaws have also been highlighted. 

Let’s begin 

Cinematography

Living in bondage sequel use of cinematography to enhance its story was nothing short of spectacular. With a powerful combination of John Demps (being Miss Elliot) and Steve Gukas (93 Days) on the project, audiences shouldn’t have expected any less. On a general note Nollywood’s high budget film that screens in theatres have been known to do camera tricks not to the benefit of the story but rather to just make a spectacle for audiences. This was not the case in this movie. 

From the opening scene that showed a drone shot sequence of a moving vehicle where audiences witnessed the killing of a small child, to the scene where Nnamdi was initiated to the occult organization, there were beautiful cinema tricks that enhanced each scene. More importantly, the cinematography mastery showcased in this movie was executed with intricate perfection. 

Casting Choices

A movie can be ruined right from the casting process. The ability of an actor to translate what’s on a script to screen must never be underappreciated. Living in bondage got four actors right in our opinion. They include: 

  1. Jide Kene Achfusi: played the character of Andy Okeke in the film and he absolutely killed it. From being a relatable ambitious young man to a loving brother and then a man who is in love. His stand out charm towards the character made his performance outstanding. This is a performance that will probably move him up the ladder in the industry and the audiences can’t wait to see more.
  1. Muna Abii: played Kelly the klutz, the love interest of Nnamdi. She was quite a delight and her on-screen chemistry between the lead can be deemed as one of the best audiences have seen on the screens in a while. Asides from being a former MBGN queen, one can see that she has good acting chops.
  1. Shawn Faqua: played Toby Nworie the brother to the lead and it was a decent performance. Though not enough screen time was given for his character, he was enjoyable whenever he came on
  1. Ramsey Nouah: played the enigmatic Richard Williams the devil billionaire who owns the six.  Asides from directing, Ramsey gave life to this well-detailed character and it was quite a show. Ramsey made the audiences fall in love with the devil.  

Good Use Of Music 

Charles Okpaleke who is the executive producer behind this project understands the power of music so much more he got over 10 well known Nigerian songs for the project and even commissioned an original soundtrack that featured a combo of superstar Davido and producer Larry gaga. With this acquired line up of tracks, one can already imagine how the songs can be well deployed to make the film more familiar and entertaining to watch.  

Production Design

From the office scenes, through the weddings, exotic displays of cars and home décor. Living in bondage production design was not slacking at all. Everything was in place down to the car plates of Richard Williams (RW II). The well-detailed design would already tell you how much money was spent in the making of this picture.  Quality indeed doesn’t come cheap. More so, there was no over-exaggeration of wealth like we have come to associate with Nollywood movies.

Forgivable Flaws 

There was a lot of unnecessary scenes that made it to the final cut. If such scenes were removed perhaps we would have had a tighter plot. Also, underdeveloped characters were littered in the film and served as distractions.  

The blogger who solved the case in the film was quite awful in terms of his excessive and edgy performance. This might be how the director wanted him to play the role but it was a huge turnoff. It was counterproductive for the character storyline.

In addition, the average performance of Kenneth Okonkwo wasn’t surprising. His acting hasn’t seemed to improve over the last 27 years when he first starred as Andy Okeke. This and a couple of other rookie mistakes from director Ramsey Nouah could be seen but are easy to forgive. 

In the end, I applaud the producers with the ending given to the movie. Tt was realistic enough, and unlike what we are used to with most Nollywood movies. 

Living in Bondage made a grand debut at the cinemas early November here in Nigeria. It instantly became a box office hit.  The film smashed the 100 million naira milestone in three weeks. It even made a cinema return after its more than 6 weeks run – this has never happened before.  This is what we’ve begged Nollywood to do more of. Revisiting some classic movies and giving it a modern look and insight.

In summary, one could say that the film is a standout from Nollywood projects that screens in theatres. It would forever be etched in the minds of anyone who gets to see it.

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