Hollywood star, Liam Neeson enjoyed a lucrative career resurgence in 2008 when Taken, a pulpy B-list actioner in which he played an avenging Dad slash retired CIA operative became a major box office sensation.
With a worldwide gross of over $200 million Taken made Neeson, then 56, a global action star and put him on the path to starring not only in two well received sequels but also a string of copycat action films that have kept him in steady business.
Seven, directed by Tosin Igho might do the same for 59-year-old Nollywood royalty, Richard Mofe-Damijo. But only if the industry is taking note.
Already Seven had somewhat of a muted reception back in 2019 when it was released in theaters nationwide. Now streaming on Netflix where it has garnered renewed attention, Seven is a flawed but surprisingly effective action drama, one that utilizes the talents of its leading men RMD and Efe Iwara and stretches them out, taking them both to places they haven’t been in a while.
Iwara is Kolade, a spoilt kid who spends his days loafing around and having a grand old time free of the responsibilities of adulthood. Igho introduces Kolade on one of these jaunts, a Fast and the Furious styled racing exercise fueled with testosterone and plenty of alcohol. Kolade insists upon this lifestyle despite several attempts by his wealthy father, Tayo (Bimbo Manuel) to get him to come on board the family business. At the gaping center of the tortured relationship between father and son, lies the memory of the woman who birthed one and loved the other. Seven finds space to comment on the complicated bonds between fathers and sons and the ultimate infallibility of the family unit.
Nearing the last days of his life, Tayo orchestrates a lavish scheme to get his only child to toe the line once and for all. In order for Kolade to inherit the family business, he has to survive seven days in the Ajegunle ghetto, the same place that formed Tayo and instilled in him the necessary roughness to succeed in big business.
Kolade, used to the soft life that daddy’s wealth affords, refuses at first. With help from his uncle Ejiro (RMD), his father’s trusted confidant however, Kolade is soon exposed to another side of life, one that just might change his life and make his soul worth redeeming. He just needs to survive the streets first.
Seven moves with a fast, dramatic pace and while Iwara’s soulful performance is the beating heart of the film, it is RMD who carries the day as he gets to play action hero. He is pretty convincing too, in ways that he hasn’t been for a while now even though the screenplay credited to Igho and Ruth Nkweti is too slight to take seriously.
As the somewhat cantankerous fellow who grew up on the streets and once ran the blocks before Tayo rescued him from a life of crime, RMD’s Ejiro sees the adventure as a chance to repay his best friend for the lifeline that was handed to him. More interestingly, he also gets to revisit his heady crime lord days.
Ejiro does not quite promise to find and kill anyone and for the most part, he is merely looking to avoid trouble. But trouble keeps on knocking and finds in him a worthy opponent. Relishing the chance to play against type, RMD is game to the demands of the screenplay and participates as much as he is able to in the set pieces that Igho cooks up.
There is a chase sequence, another one where RMD’s Ejiro knocks down a room full of boys half his age and a showdown with the prince of Ajegunle himself, music star Daddy Showkey. It may sound ridiculous on paper, but Igho makes it work onscreen, investing the film with a clear visual energy that is infectious.
RMD has spent the last few years playing iterations of the wealthy (hot) dad figure but Seven gives him something more interesting to work with. Could this be the start of a hot new franchise? One can only wish.
But really, why not?
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.