[Movie Review] 'Render To Caesar'. The 100 Million Naira Nollywood Experiment

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Directed By: Desmond Ovbiagele, Onyekachi “Lucky” Ejim

Written by: Desmond Ovbiagele

Starring: Omoni Oboli, Wale Ojo, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Bimbo Manuel, Dede Mabiaku, Onyekachi “Lucky” Ejim, Femi Jacobs, Kalu Ikeagwu, Kehinde Bankole

This review contains spoilers and if you haven’t seen the movie and intend seeing it, just scroll down to the Verdict section for my Spoiler free opinion of the movie.

Synopsis

Two friends return home from abroad to join the Bureau of Detectives under an ambitious government scheme to develop future leaders of the much-maligned Police Force. Dipo (Gbenga Akinnagbe) & Pade (Wale Ojo) are assigned to the Lagos State Police Command with the daunting task of hunting and apprehending a notorious robber called Caesar who continues to wage a harsh campaign of ruthless attacks across the State.

The Script

CP (Commissioner of Police): Okay, So, Make my day.

ACP Dipo (Assistant Commissioner of Police): According to the bank guard, the leader of the gang is a man named Caesar,

CP: Oh. Very original. So how do we find this roman criminal?

This conversation up here pretty much sums up what I loved the most about the Desmond Ovbiagele written script. It never fails at delivering an engaging dialogue between the characters in its scenes.

‘Render To Caesar’ has a strong premise established in the beginning with its two ‘high profiled and imported super cops’ trying to solve a murder of a high ranked police officer by a ‘Shina Rambo’ kinda character named Caesar. While these guys believe no criminal matches them on the streets of Lagos, Caesar gives them quite an irritating headache, thanks to his informants feeding him intel from within the force. As much as I enjoyed Caesar, it had its many flaws (we’ll be getting to them shortly) which made me watch this movie twice in a bid to find answers to some unresolved questions. Some of which are still not resoled till now.

When I saw the trailer, I wasn’t sold but hoped that with big names such as Microsoft, Trace and FCMB behind the project as well as a dynamic cast, the much talked about ‘Render To Caesar’ would live up to expectations.

For a genre which hasn’t really been explored in the Nigerian movie scene much, it tries to be unique by bringing in witty dialogues and a good degree of continuity, until Pieces of the big puzzle -which are supposed to add up- fail to do so. Instances of these are;

How the link between D.P.O Okafor and the Kidnapper (from the School scene) was established. After all, we were never told Funmi’s father had anything to do with the investigation. So how does a man trying to kidnap the girl get tied to an armed robbery and murder case?

The event which happens 20 years ago wasn’t clearly explained. Which of the boys was Caesar? Why was Femi Jacobs carrying what looked like a TV set? Was he their father? How did Dipo’s Sister get so messed up? Was she raped that night? We never got an explanation of why she resorted to drugs as explained by Dipo.

Who was the man CP went to meet that night? Did Caesar arrange the meeting, or was it CSP Pade who arranged it?

‘Render To Caesar’ makes a strong attempt at tackling a loosely explored genre in Nollywood but I feel it wasn’t ready yet and still needed to go through a draft or two, eliminating largely the predictability and clichéd nature before hitting the Director’s desk.

SEE ALSO: The Meeting: Movie Review

The Directing

‘Render To Caesar’ was directed by Desmond Ovbiagele. This is his first production and he definitely wasn’t scared to tackle a big project worth an impressive 100 million naira. His decision to work with such an experienced Crew is a sign that gives me the impression that Mr. Ovbiagele would soon become a household name (hopefully for good).

The cinematography was okay. The sound design was well done with really cool sound effects. Graphics and visual effects were also okay, but most of all, the casting was the best thing about the movie.

‘Render To Caesar’ had its flaws in its technicalities though. For a movie with such a budget, the car chase scene and the final shootout could have been better executed. How about the explosion scene at the bank? The explosion was poorly edited and obviously a lazy job with some actors outside the bank dropping dead seconds before the explosion, making it seem as if they had been charmed into deep sleep, like scenes out of fetish Nigerian movies that we’re unfortunately used to!

The Acting

This was the best thing about ‘Render To Caesar’ as I said earlier. It’s a dynamic cast which was picked from Hollywood, Nollywood and UK.

The lead characters played by Gbenga Akinnagbe and Omoni Oboli (Alero) whose chemistry wasn’t the best but were still very enjoyable and I would have loved to have seen more of them as a couple on screen. Gbenga Akinnagbe overacted in some scenes such as the final scenes where he realizes who was behind the plot the whole time and had facial expressions were like a glitchy machine.

Omoni Oboli lost her touch slightly after being rescued from the hands of Caesar and gave rather really weird facial expressions.

Wale Ojo, who was the more reserved of the two lead male characters, was impressive and I loved his use of facial expressions and body movement to further enhance his calm and collected persona.

Dede Mabiaku (CP Emmanuel)  and Bimbo Manuel, especially Bimbo Manuel, were simply veterans. Not more needs to be said of the two of them.

Lucky Ejim who plays Caesar had the ultimate bad guy voice which I couldn’t help but try to rehearse in front of my mirror! Lucky pulled off the swerve of a criminal mastermind well.

Like I said, the acting was really cool and made the movie enjoyable for me.

The Verdict

‘Render to Caesar’ is an experiment, which even with its many flaws, in the end to me is a big step forward for Nollywood. A 100 million Naira project is rare to come by and I will say we could support the project and believe the makers can only get better and avoid many of the mistakes mentioned in their future projects.

‘Render To Caesar’ earns a Soda & Hotdog from us at Sodas & Popcorn HQ.

Sodas & Popcorn Rating3

 

 

 

Review by @titiCocoa and @don_sylvestre

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