I’ve always wondered about the potential of Nollywood and what the perfect Nigerian movie would look like. But now, I have my answer. Whenever someone says that Nigerian movies can never match up to Hollywood, I’ll just point to Gangs of Lagos, the Opus of Nollywood, and say, “Watch this!”
Allow me to tell you why this movie is the greatest Nigerian movie I have ever seen.
Firstly, the plot is simply captivating. Welcome to the gritty streets of Isale Eko, Lagos, where life is rough, and the only role models are thugs with their ill-gotten wealth. The story follows Obalola, Ify, and Gift as they navigate the underbelly of the gangs of Lagos while trying to hold on to their dreams. I absolutely loved the drama in the movie; it gave me Slumdog Millionaire vibes. But, hey, there are no spoilers here, so that’s all I will say about the storyline.
Gangs of Lagos delves into the violent nature of Nigerian elections and the role of thugs as kingmakers. If I had to describe how the story is told, I’d use one word: raw. There are no holds barred in its telling, and you can certainly immerse yourself in it.
Yes, the movie is violent. Not MCU-violent, but DC-violent. Scratch that… real-life violence. So those who are weak of heart should take heed! Nevertheless, this no-holds-barred approach also lends the movie a powerful emotional element that’s hard to forget. I haven’t felt such intense emotions since I watched love mmuo o infunanya as a kid.
The pain of the characters is visceral.
The movie also takes a realistic approach to language. Most of the dialogue is in Yoruba, which is unsurprising as the film is set in Isale Eko, Lagos. Even though I don’t understand the language, I loved how the subtitles were done.
Now, let’s talk about the cast. Nollywood loves its stars and celebrity cameos, and this movie is no exception. The cast is star-studded, with names I’m not too familiar with, but my roommate assures me that they’re popular. Nevertheless, even a novice like me knows Chike and Zlatan. One doesn’t expect much from musicians acting in movies, but these guys killed it with their performance.
The movie also features Tobi Bakre, Demi Banwo, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Iyabo Ojo, and Somkele Idhalama, all of whom deliver excellent performances.
Regarding the movie’s technical aspects, the cinematography is simply stunning. Every scene was carefully shot and curated, and there are no pointless b-roll shots of the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge. The wardrobe is also perfect, not too flashy, but just right. The action scenes were very well choreographed and not over the top. And can we talk about the soundtrack for a minute? I loved how none of Nigeria’s most prominent artists appeared on it. No Wizkid, no Davido, no Burnaboy. It was a refreshing change.
I’m the number one critic of Nigerian movies, but I can honestly say that I’m delighted with Gangs of Lagos. It’s not perfect, as it becomes a bit predictable toward the end, but it has many strengths that make up for it. This movie deserves every accolade that’s coming to it, and if it doesn’t win all the awards this year, make I bend.