Living in Bondage: Breaking Free

“Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,” does not break free from Nollywood’s poor storytelling

In “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,” the devil probably wears Prada but also drives a Ferrari. His name is Richard Williams (Ramsey Nuoah), a businessman and the owner of Zion Rail Networks. He has fame and fortune. He is classy and sassy.

It is 27 years since the events in “Living in Bondage.” And although Andy Okeke (Kenneth Okonkwo) broke free from the cult he had contaminated his bloodline. So, it was only a matter of time before nemesis caught up with him. Meanwhile, the cult has evolved. It is bigger. Even gone international and now called “The Six.” Chief Omego (Kanayo O. Kanayo – also called KOK) is still a member as is Mike (Bob-Manuel Udokwu). But Williams is now at the helm.

Whilst Nouah was compelling in his role. KOK and Udokwu more or less hand no real roles in this sequel. They were merely included in the cast to make a connection with the original film. The lead protagonist is Nnamdi Okeke (Swanky JKA), a broke advertising executive and mysterious son of Andy. Swanky’s portrayal of advertising practitioners will leave them disappointed. No fault of his, just poor research on the part of the producers because advertising people dress down, but Nnamdi looked more like a banker. Overall, his acting was decent. However, like the story, he started out very strong but towards the end of the film, he over performed a couple of times. For instance, why did he look so serious whilst he was supposed to be enjoying the view from William’s balcony?

David Jones David who portrayed the journalists also gave an exaggerated performance in a couple of scenes. But the duo who portrayed Mr and Mrs Nworei – Nnamdi’s uncle and aunt were brilliant. Nonetheless, Munachi Abii was the most pleasant surprise in the film. Abii who played Nnamdi’s love interest – Kelly – lit-up the screen. She was such a joy to watch. Natural and relatable.

“Living in Bondage: Breaking Free” is lavish and modern. It is Nouah’s directorial debut and he scores an A for locations, props, visual effects, soundtrack and camerawork. However, Nicole Asinugo and C.J. Obasi’s story fail him.

First off, for such a modern film, one did not expect the beheading. You know what they say about men of the occult. If they are after a person, distance or lack of physical contact are no barriers. And Williams proved this when he confronted Andy. When one considers how Merit was sacrificed, it seems “Living in Bondage” was ahead of its time. Andy did no behead her. She was hypnotised and her blood was drawn with a syringe. It landed her in hospital where she died. As such, Andy could explain Merit’s death away .

Rituals also follow a prescribed order, that is why they are called rituals. But not in “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free.” Some members had to behead their loved ones. Some sacrifices were ravished by a spirit, and in other situations, a name would have sufficed.

More over, the choices the characters made were logically inconsistent. For instance, for a man whose only reason to join the cult was his bloodline, Obinna Omego (Enyinna Nwigwe) was too on-board with it. One would expect such a character to be on the sidelines. Perhaps even be melancholic like Helene in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s “Ready or Not.” But Obinna was Williams’s right-hand man. In the beginning also, Obinna drove a Toyota Corolla implying that he was middle-class but could later afford a Mercedes G-wagon because he joined the cult. However, that is also inconsistent. He was Chief Omego’s son and so, he probably never lacked anything.

Still on choices, Nnamdi’s first deal was worth N50 million. And there were several more. By all indication, he had become a comfortable man. There was neither a real motivation for his actions nor an inciting incident. It could have been played differently. Like ‘giving him fish’ as opposed to ‘teaching him how to fish’. As in, showing him a good time yet he still has N5,000 in the bank. That could have been a lure.

The screenwriters also spent time establishing the bond between Nnamdi and his cousin Tobe Nworie (Shawn Faqua) – who in fact was like his younger brother. So, it is questionable that Tobi was missing-in-action after Nnamdi’s big break. And how convenient for him to show-up on the day of reckoning? More so, except that this sequel is set-up for a sequel there is no rational explanation for Nnamdi not reaching out to his father for help.

Nuoah is just as loved as the original “Living in Bondage.” Regrettably, his sequel, “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free” does not break free from the poor storytelling that bedevils most Nollywood movies. Instead, this film takes the audience back to the days of “TO GOD BE THE GLORY. TO BE CONTINUED.”



Directed by Ramsey Nouah

Produced by: Steve Gukas

Cast includes; Ramsey Nuoah, Kenneth Okonkwo, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Enyinna Nwigwe, Nancy Isime, Munachi Abii and Kalu Ikeagwu

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About the author

A lover of the arts who sees film and television through the prism of the Nigerian viewer.