When Okey Oku released the trailer for the Nigerian movie “Levi”, the one word to describe it was frightful. “Levi” was one of the more anticipated Nigerian movies of January 2019. Unfortunately, the movie is somewhat a dispiriting start to the year for Nollywood.
Okey Oku serves as director, producer and editor of the movie “Levi”. But he relies once again on “Black Rose” screenwriter Bethrogers for the story, and Abiola for an original score.
Ramsey Nouah plays the titular character Levi Jite, a young and successful inventor. He is a workaholic who has designed a microchip which Microsoft is after, and has been recognised by Forbes Africa. He is the genius the ladies can’t get enough of – journalists, nurses, supermarket owners – you name it. And the handsome geek who can hardly maintain eye contact over dinner – although he claims that maintaining eye contact is one of the ways he charms women.
Levi has almost everything he wants except Somi Nwachukwu (Nancy Isime). Marrying her would make his life perfect but she is taken. She’s married to Israel (Deyemi Okanlawan) and they have good onscreen chemistry. Somi works as a sales girl at Ovis Stores owned by Lydia Forson. Somi is Levi’s obsession but she’s got her own obsession too. She’s the employee who ‘steals her boss’s time by dwelling on social media. Although Israel is neck-deep in debt, Somi’s social media obsession might be the real reason their five-year marriage is heading for the rocks.
The movie also stars Joseph Benjamin as Levi’s buddy from university. Benjamin plays Jasper Mowlabi – with an accent that sounds somewhat east African and whose foreign roots doesn’t add any relevance to the story. But as the story goes, while working on his latest invention, a concrete drilling tool which he branded “Drill Bot”, Levi discovers that he might be terminally ill. At the same time, Jasper tells Levi that he proposed to his university professor. He advises Levi to go after the woman of his dreams.
The genius Levi – although 13 years old when he left St. Paul’s Secondary School, was Somi’s senior ‘by far’. But he never outgrew his crush for Somi. So, Levi hatches a plan to make Somi his wife. It’s a simple plan. He’d attack her husband and she’d go running to him. Meanwhile, there’s Gina (Bolaji Ogunmola) the reporter. She’s Levi’s one-night stand gone bad, who is out for revenge.
Bethroger’s screenplay is based on a lust and obsession plot. And he paid attention to the character profiles but not their progression. At the end of his story, neither does Levi develop into the villain nor Gina into a compelling stalker. Forson, Somi’s boss who can seem to remember her name also has eyes for Levi. But her bullying doesn’t help in advancing the story except for revealing Somi’s minor character flaw.
Delaying the set-up until well into the second half of the film also didn’t. It didn’t allow for enough depth and so the concluding scenes of the movie are rushed. The result is an anti-climatic end. It also gives the audience the opportunity to notice plotholes. For instance, how come Gina had access to Levi’s office and home if his intention was a one night stand.
It is regrettable that “Levi” is just another Nigerian movie in which impending danger is synonymous with tailgating. Yet we acknowledge Gina’s stunt after Levi got a favourable report from his doctor (Bimbo Manuel). That scene alongside a drooling Levi who screams at his personal assistant Ebere (Lisa Omorodion) ‘do I look like I am dying’, are the standout performances in the film. Nouah was imposing. But if you’ve already seen in it the trailer, then there isn’t much to look forward to.
Oku’s latest film, could have been an entertaining psychological thriller but it is lacking in real suspense and is ultimately bland. Sequels are a re-awakened craze in Nollywood, and “Levi” has been set-up for one.
The movie “Levi” opened in Nigerian cinemas on January 18.
Directed and produced by Okechukwu “Okey” Oku
Cast includes; Ramsey Nouah, Nancy Isime, Deyemi Okanlowan, Lydia Forson, Bimbo Manuel, Joseph Benjamin, Bolaji Ogunmola, Lisa Omorodion