A Soldier’s Story
Newly married Major Egan (Tope Tedela) is to compelled by unforeseen circumstances to leave his wife, Lebari (Adesua Etomi) for a peace-keeping mission in a fictional African country, where he is severely wounded and left for dead, but Gina (Linda Ejiofor) runs into him, nursing him to stability. He then returns home to face untold troubles.
The beauty of making a popular face unrecognizable shows the power that make-up artistes and costume designers wield in the motion picture world. Zainab Balogun is totally unrecognizable as Angela, a feat only a few Nollywood films have achieved and one that many more directors should strive for. The few directors and movies which readily come to mind in this regard are: Hilda Dokubo, who looked totally different as Urenma in late Amaka Igwe’s Forever, Rita Dominic (Clara) in Mildred Okwo’s The Meeting and Fabian Adeoye-Lojede as the police officer in October 1.
The scene where Egan bids Lebari a reluctant goodbye makes one imagine how traumatizing it must be for the families of combatants to say goodbye to these soldiers, uncertain if their loved ones will ever return. Yet, the movie soon veers into a tale that exposes the atrocious activities of a rebel group, which is not bad in itself save for the fact that the variant of the English language invented by the producers of the film is laughable, at best.
Why, indeed, do the people of that fictional country have an accent; which turns out to be utterly inconsistent in usage; especially by Bossman (Daniel K. Daniel) and Gina (Linda Ejiofor)? Edwin (Olumide Oworu) is praised for being quite consistent in his usage of the irritating accent; Oworu will definitely make a mark in his chosen vocation.
Much as the producers are applauded for showing bodies that look real, they are knocked for dispensing with convincing pictorial action in several places. The scavengers do not cover their noses even with the decomposing bodies everywhere. In fact, they strut and happily converse as if they are taking a walk in the park.
Bossman’s fighters stay still without writhing in pain despite the very large wounds they bear on their bodies. Egan is neither disfigured by the very loud punches nor does his body swell as a result of the numbing beatings. Even his face does not puff up, not with that kind of pounding! The punches are too many that a professional kick-boxer can die from the impact.
One wonders why Egan decides to hit Bossman on his penis when he knows the action could have meant the end of his life. With his training, he knows the consequences of aggression during tense situations. In some cases, one may decide to inflict a life-long injury on his adversary before dying; however hitting Bossman’s penis is acute and will leave no lasting memory on Bossman.
The viewer is not allowed to follow Lebari’s emotions as she leaves her husband for Col. Bello. Does he coerce her, does she fall for his gimmicks or is she enthusiastic about the relationship? What about introducing another contender for Lebari’s love; perhaps a suave, well-to-do young man, thereby letting the viewers see if Bello will edge his rival out or take him out? That sequence would have been intriguing and revealing if it had been well written and enacted.
Frankie Ogar, the director of A Soldier’s Story dispenses with the opportunity of telling a remarkable tale though he had a gripping idea before him. The failure to write a stimulating screenplay is Ogar’s greatest undoing because it actually requires a lot of endurance to sit and watch this 114-minute film to the end.
It is difficult to equate the dissatisfaction that one feels when one sees an otherwise captivating story that ends up not realizing its potential in any art form, but this discontentment is aggravated when a motion picture director fails to make his art picturesque. This is the fate of A Soldier’s Story, the adventures of Egan and Gina.