“The Black Book” – A Very Ambitious Crime Thriller From Nollywood

Sep 28, 2023

In Nollywood, million-dollar budgets are as scarce as diamonds in the sand. But that’s what ‘The Black Book” gets to play with. In this audacious crime thriller by director Editi Effiong, we’re plunged into a relentless tale of a father’s unwavering quest for vengeance following his son’s tragic murder.

From a production perspective, “The Black Book” shines. The cinematography and production design create a visually captivating world. Grounded and believable, the action sequences resonate with the average Nigerian viewer. The performances stand out, with RMD’s physicality in the role of Paul Edima, a military veteran, leaving lasting impressions. But it is the film’s exploration of societal issues that leaves the most impression on viewers. “The Black Book” exposes the level of the rot within the ruling class and how security agencies like the police often place selfish desires above the lives of innocent citizens, which holds a mirror to real-life Nigeria’s struggles. What Editi Effiong tries to do with this movie is admirable, an act he’s taken to his X (FKA Twitter) handle to describe as “a tragic love letter” to Nigeria.

The Black Book movie poster

Official movie poster | Netflix

Like most movies, “The Black Book” isn’t without its flaws. One significant issue is the forced introduction and prominence of “The Black Book” within the plot. The way it is done felt like an awkward addition, detracting from the movie’s core narrative. The initial mission, to retrieve a dead son’s body, appears disjointed from the sudden importance of this titular item. The movie would have fared better with a more streamlined narrative or, in its case, a better explanation for why things happen the way they do. The filmmakers do their best, that much is obvious, but this is one area where it was really lacking.

Thankfully, there’s nothing inherently terrible about “The Black Book.” It represents a bold stride in Nollywood’s evolution, showcasing what’s possible with more significant budgets and passion from the filmmaker(s) calling the shots. It’s a mixed bag, undoubtedly, but one with more hits than misses, thankfully.

“The Black Book” emerges as a flawed yet promising gem, kindling the flame of hope for more compelling narratives in the future. In my opinion, embarking on this journey is worthwhile—definitely a film to watch.”

Screenplay by: Bunmi Ajakaiye and Editi Effiong

Directed by: Editi Effiong

“The Black Book” is streaming on Netflix.

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