Movie title: Gold Statue
Starring: Gabriel Afolayan, Kunle Remi, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sola Sobowale and Kalu Ikeagwu
Director: Adekunle Tade Ogidan
Year of release: 2019
In Gold Statue, his latest effort, Tade Ogidan takes a bit from an assortment of genres. The film takes the viewer on a roller-coaster of emotions with scenes suggesting the experience of a thriller, the serious presentation of a drama (with one or two melodramatic bents) and the adrenaline pumping excitement of the adventure movie. Loaded with bouts of the comedic, Gold Statue tells an unusual caper story.
Wale Esho (Gabriel Afolayan) alongside his friend Chike (Kunle Remi) would do anything to get their hands on a priced artefact. In planning his way into prison, he colludes with Chike and his old friend Brian (Kalu Ikeagwu) and engages in all sorts of ridiculous, sometimes dangerous devices that leave him only one breath away from death.
Ogidan puts dramatic irony to profuse use in this film! The audience is made to either humour or pity virtually everyone Wale deals with in the entire duration of the film. From his parents, (RMD and Sola Sobowale) who labour to understand what demon has their son in its clutches, to the police officer (Francis Onwochei), who, co-founded with how such a dazing young man could be so criminally minded, offers money for his transportation to Akwa Ibom State, to the judiciary whose hands Wale forces to send him to prison, to the Head Warden (Ali Baba), who offers the most memorable line in the film: “this boy will write his name in gold” not knowing he is indeed in pursuit of gold, and fellow inmates who are conned into believing that Wale only aims at an escape from prison. The audience savours the seeming gullibility of loads of characters whom the protagonist cons into building the bridges that ferry him across all the rivers he encounters in this self-appointed mission.
The most pathetic sucker of all is however the state, which is lost to the reality of the heist that has hit it and same goes to crown Wale and Chike for doing noble on its behalf. This irony immediately translates the duo into heroes even to Wale’s father whose disappointment with his son had remained hitherto unmitigated.
How Wale, Chike and their accomplices end up is however bound to throw up a few debates, unless of course, Ogidan plans to regale film goers with a sequel, a hint of which Hammer (Kevin Ikeduba) gives in one of the last scenes.
Although there are one or two samples of what one can describe as Ogidan’s fingerprints in this movie (like the scene on the highway where the Zonal Commander of the Prison (Segun Arinze) catches up with Ogoro and the two young men, which reminds of the final scene in Ogidan’s Hostages), the movie leaves its protagonist in a completely unexpected state.
This resolution is curious in two ways. The first is that censors’ authorities in Nigeria are usually not receptive of denouements that do not sufficiently punish crimes. An incredible thriller released a couple of years back with the title: What lies Beneath was forced back to the studios just, so the audience does not go away with the impression that crimes never go unpunished. That Gold Statue survives this scrutiny is an indication that realism is indeed a level that creatives in Nigeria can now explore.
More importantly however, Ogidan himself has never shied away from imposing the law of karma on his characters even though lessons from his past movies may have opened his eyes to the commercial misfortune that usually lay in store for movies without “happy” endings in Nigeria.
But something suggests that even in saving this protagonist, Ogidan takes another level of didacticism, a subtle lampoon and exposé of the compromises that happen in low and high places to the detriment of the community.
Gold Statue exposes the scam that Nigeria is whether on the streets, at the police station, prisons or government offices. It also reveals the endless subordination of collective interests for that of the few even as it engenders laughter.
In this return from a near decade long hiatus, Ogidan comes in the company of old, reliable and friendly hands in his cast and crew. There is Jonathan Gbemuotor, Director of Photography Simi Opeoluwa, Associate Producer and Bakare Adeoye, Production Manager/ On his cast, he employs the experience of veterans like Tunji Bamishigbin, Yinka Akanbi, Norbert Young, Francis Onwochie, Tina Mba, Richard Mofe-Damijo and Sola Sobowale, the last two reuniting 19 years after Ogidan’s 1998 release, Diamond Ring!
These great names alongside a crop of younger actors led by Gabriel Afolayan, Kunle Remi, Rycardo Agbor, Kelvin Ikeduba, Gregory Ojefua, Abounce, Adeniyi Johnson, Judith Audu and Bisola Aiyeola form the stellar cast that deliver the enduring audience experience awaiting viewers of this elaborately colourful production.
Speaking about acting, Afolayan, who plays Adewale Esho, a young graduate caught in the temptation of the stupendous wealth the successful retrieval of a treasure ordinarily in the custody of his ancestry portends, surpasses himself in this 145-minute movie, which opens with outstandingly suspenseful moment.
And even though some scenes stretch too long unto the point of wearing the viewer out (like the female inmates’ room and some conversations in the tunnel) and acting sometimes gets too stock (especially with Sola Sobowale) and predictable on some other occasions, with Gold Statue, Ogidan, once again delivers an unforgettable piece of work.