“Ojukororo” is a rollicking and bloody comedy of errors – Toni Kan

There is a beautiful scene in Ojukokoro (Greed) where the Manager (Charles Etubiebi), about to step into the Accountant’s office checks to see whether there is someone at the reception.

A moment earlier, Sunday (Tope Tedela’s) character had dropped a piece of paper and was bending down to pick it up when the Manager peeped in. Believing that no one was about he had stepped into the Accountant’s office.

I have singled out this scene because it speaks to good story telling and a refusal to contrive which is a staple in Nollywood.

The inciting incident in Ojukokoro is not clearly defined until later but the narrator tells us that he will be dead if he does not raise 10million naira in 3 days which is at the core of his moral dilemma.

The opening toilet scene is nauseating and straight out of Trainspotting while the entire movie echoes scenes from movies like Pulp fiction and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as the Forrest Whitaker movie, Vantage Point.

Say whatever you like about Ojukokoro, you can’t take away the fact that Dare Olaitan is a student of film and a sponge for what works.

Andrew is stuck in a dead end job as Manager of a filling station where nothing is what it seems. His staff runs rings around him, especially the coke head Accountant (Emmanuel Ikubese) and the two petrol attendants who spend their time playing draughts.

Into this mix drops Andrew’s plan to rob his own establishment but first he has to find a means of “incapacitating” his colleagues. The plan is a simple one and almost works perfectly except for Sunday who smells a fish.

Ojukokoro works on a series of coincidences. Mad Dog Max (Wale Ojo) has kidnapped Sade (Somkele Iyamah) at the behest of a political god father. Sade’s husband is Jubril (Ali Nuhu) who happens to be Andrew’s friend. Andrew has chosen to rob the facility on his birthday and stopping by at Jubril’s on his way to work learns about the kidnap and also receives a birthday present which he doesn’t open. Monday, the other half of the petrol attendants has a gambling problem and in a tight and loquacious moment informs two criminals of the goldmine sitting in his office.

These disparate characters somehow happen to converge on Lubcon petrol station on the same day and at the same time leading to some kind of Mexican stand-off that leads to a bloody climax.

This is the sum of the movie but it achieves its complex and enjoyable nature from the multiple points of views and overlapping scenes with its intersection of motives all fuelled by greed.

“Why we go wait for Monday to bring us bread when we dey look the bakery?” Rambo says to his partner in crime. Shawn Faqua gives a thrilling performance as Rambo, the blood thirsty and talkative criminal with a facial tic.

Ojukokoro riffs on human beings as pawns on the chessboard of fate even as their actions and inactions lead to dire consequences and repercussions. There is also the worn trope of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, cue Linda Ejiofor’s character and her beau.

Dare Olaitan deserves praise for his screenplay and directing but he also needs to learn to avoid some of the grating Nollywood missteps. Why must we have oafs, sorry, comedians in movies? Rambo and his side kick are a lot funnier than Hafiz’ (Saka) character and his co-guard. Why must Nollywood comedy always end up as slapstick?

Overacting is a Nollywood disease and it is infectious in Ojukokoro. Wale Ojo, for instance, starts out well.

“Did I hurt you?” he asks Shade in a classic case of dissembling, his intent clearly hidden. “Fine girl like you, did I touch you?”

Menace should be quiet and never screaming.

But because a firm directorial touch is lacking his character soon descends into kitsch.

The attendants receive jerry cans, ostensibly, filled with drugs but they are clearly empty and when the Accountant cuts open the jerry can, it is obvious it had already been cut open before. A key part of movie making is verisimilitude. This is lacking in many respects.

A director must always play to the strength of his actors and Dare almost misses it with Tope Tedela, a fantastic actor, who is reduced to inane banter at the beginning. He finally shows his chops when the robbery begins.

To conclude, Dare Olaitan as director deserves kudos for that scene described at the beginning of this review but aside from that and other intermittent flashes of brilliance, Ojukokoro often seems like a poor man’s Guy Ritchie movie.

It is clear that Dare is a fan of both Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino and might, in time, make them proud especially since this is his first movie. Shot in 2016, Ojukokoro is getting a new lease of life with its turn on Netflix

An actress with whom I shared my thoughts said “It was Dare’s first film. He actually got better with “Knock Out Blessing” and even better with the one that’s coming out soon, “Dwindle”.”

So, while we await “Dwindle”, let’s enjoy Dare’s first salvo, Ojukokoro, a rollicking and bloody comedy of errors.

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