2018 was a great year for Nollywood movies, and ‘The Set Up’ is one of the year’s jewels. It was directed by Niyi Akinmolayan and written by Chinaza Onuzo. They created one of the most intriguing Nollywood stories of the decade. Their effort is praise-worthy.
Of course, the star-studded cast put in great work, and together, they made ‘The Set Up’ something truly special.
The Set up Plot
The official synopsis reads: A young woman gets more than she bargained for and is drawn into a web of deceit when she is hired by a socialite to assist his scheme to marry a wealthy heiress.
Chike, played by Etomi, is a drug dealer turned con artist, as is her childhood best friend Grace, played by Kehinde Bankole. They are both raised in dysfunctional households – Chike’s father is an assassin and her mother is a sex worker. Grace’s parents tried to sell her into prostitution.
They manage to get away and push drugs until a strange woman unceremoniously enters their flat to announce that the NDLEA is coming for them. This woman is Madame Enitan (played by Tina Mba), a con artist who runs an institution dedicated to stealing men’s secrets, called The Academy.
The Academy fronts as a private club and employs women and trains in espionage. Enitan recruits Chike and Grace, keeping them out of prison, and they soon become her right-hand women.
Edem, played by Jim Iyke, contracts The Academy to assist him in his scheme to marry Motunrayo Elesho, a wealthy heiress. Chike takes the job, unaware that nothing is what it seems and she is being played from every corner.
The weakest part of the movie somehow manages to be one of the strongest. The story is original and refreshing, we will give it that. They had an amazing idea, even if the execution is not the best. It was unpredictable, with twists and turns that made us go from “Huh?” to “Oh? Interesting.”
Casting and Acting
Adesua Etomi-Wellington is a shining star and brings her character to life. She and her co-star Kehinde Bankole have a lot of platonic chemistry. Chike and Grace are opposites, the tough one and the soft one, and play off each other well.
Tina Mba, though her character is not properly developed, gives a stunning performance. She plays the woman who is calm and moves gently, and also happens to be intimidating and quietly wicked.
Everyone else gives a decent performance. Joke Silvia plays Moruntayo’s ruthless mother, and Ayoola Ayolola is the younger son.
Cinematography and sound
Like most big-budget movies, the cinematography is stunning. Every scene was shot well, with the exception of the one action scene, which is really just a training sequence.
Set and Costume Design
The movie is set in Lagos and has one of the most beautiful sets we have ever seen. The Academy’s base is a grand piece of architecture.
Everyone’s clothes and hair are perfect – New Nollywood does not slack when it comes to this.
The movie uses flashbacks to tell its story as especially to reveal plot twists, but these are not always done properly. Scenes do not have to be repeated – surely the audience can remember what they watched a few minutes ago.
There is something about the plot twists. At first, all they did was leave us perplexed, and then a little surprised until finally, they left us shrugging and shaking our heads with amused smiles. A little extra effort could have plugged the plot holes, and we feel like Madam Enitan was not done justice, but who knows, who knows, there might be a sequel. Maybe she will return as a villain and we can see more of her. You cannot shake the feeling that this movie should have been about her rise to power and the start of The Academy.
And of course, some things were just too easy or unrealistic, like how effortlessly Chike and Grace escape with the NDLEA literally at their door.
One problem, why were no younger actors brought in to play Mrs Elesho and Madame Enitan in the flashbacks from over a decade ago?
While the performances ranged from decent to phenomenal, it was all undermined by some of the poor dialogue. A lot of the Lines were monotonous, sometimes forced, or just poorly delivered.
”The Set Up’ was very refreshing, and we talk about this a lot. Nollywood keeps bringing out movies with great potential. It is left for the industry to keep learning from their mistakes until they get it right.