A lot of critical thinking and strategic planning went into the production of The Department, a romance/action/crime/thriller about a group of young people, who are into sophisticated fraud. Tolu (Osas Ighodaro) and Nnamdi (Majid Michel) find love whilst working in this covert group; resign their membership and relocate to Ibadan in order to live happily ever after. However, the group still needs their services, which leads to a clash of values and wills; jeopardizing everything at the same time.
In addition to the couple, O. C. Ukeje (Segun), Kenneth Okolie (Moses), Seun Akindele (Hakeem), Desmond Elliot (Effiong), Udoka Oyeka (James) Koko Esang (Chijioke), Saheed Mohammed/Funky Mallam (Mallam Shehu), Jide Kosoko (Chief) plus the people, who play Jeremy Watts and Mary deliver their roles with the intensity a film of this nature dictates. Viewers are immediately reminded of series like 24 and Prison Break.
The movie is subtitled when Moses (Okolie) speaks Igbo with Innocent (Emeka Duru), his business associate, something many film-makers neglect or handle shabbily. That is praiseworthy. For Effiong (Elliot), love for a wife depends solely on wealth and material possessions. Well, for a man, whose livelihood is earned through shady deals, it is unreasonable to expect much from him morally.
In fact, there were no slips in the portrayal of any of those characters, leading one to suspect that the cast were subjected to adequate rehearsals before recording commenced. Remi Vaughan-Richards shows a lot of competence as a director that she merits a loud ovation just like Chinaza Onuzo earns a resounding applause for the screenplay. The audience are on their toes from the beginning up until the end of the film.
Despite its brilliance, there are a couple of shortcomings in The Department. Tolu’s reason for accepting the offer to return to the group is that she does not find a job, having attended a couple of interviews. Must she do a 9.00 to 5.00? Couldn’t she have started a business with all the wealth they amassed from their clandestine job or did their money finish upon acquiring their magnificent Ibadan home?
How did Tolu tie Segun? Did she drop her gun and he couldn’t overpower her, is that possible? Later on, Nnamdi also ties two people up. It is very curious how he was able to achieve this when he was the only one, facing two people. Like Tolu, his wife, did he drop his gun to tie the two people or did he ask one person to tie the other before dropping his gun to tie the second person? The two actions beggar belief! Why was Jeremy not gagged, seeing that he could scream for help once he regains consciousness even with his hands bound?
Why was the camera shaking as Chief speaks with Akpodiga in his office? Moses says to someone on the phone: ‘Nnamdi is atmine.’ Did he mean to say ‘… at my place’?
Does the man in the Newsweek and Time magazine covers share an office with Chief or is he Chief’s father or forbear? Else, why were the magazines displayed as if they co-own the office? It is very likely the man is the owner of the office they used as location for Chief’s office. They should have removed his pictures before recording. Eventhe loopholes in the film are unable to undermine it.
The understated theme in The Department is loyalty. Segun’s admiration of Tolu makes him to sabotage Chief’s efforts same with Moses’ friendship with Nnamdi. However, no one saw this coming.