Over the past years Mr Afolayan has proven himself to be one of the most renowned filmmakers from Nigeria and Africa as a whole, churning out unforgettable master-class movies like Irapada, Phone Swap, October1 and most recently The CEO.
The CEO is mostly shot in a resort in Lagos, Nigeria and showcases the series of events that ensue when a multinational company (Transwire Limited) decide to pick a new CEO to run the firm by hosting top executives for the position at a beach resort in order to pick the next boss, what starts out as cordial leads to the top executives trying to outdo themselves to be named The CEO.
The movie opens with a scene where Kola (Wale Ojo) is running for dear life and is apprehended by the Police, that scene was supposed to welcome us into this promising journey but then weak direction is offered, when the Production Designer (Pat Nebo) who is not an actor grips Kola and the other officers stand by, a little scuffle is expected, a little more than what Afolayan offered, more direction and takes were required to give the audience the desired effect of believability. The movie boasts of a very rich Pan-African cast which was the desired effect as an African cinema harmonising movie aside the cast, the movie had varied shots from Kenya, Morocco, Ivory Coast, France and the overall production was done in Nigeria.
The CEO had great performances, each country not only representing their countries as characters to become THE CEO but providing heavy weight acting representing their countries in the real as well. Angelique Kidjo proved that her prowess exceeds music as the austere consultant, Dr. Zimmerman, Wale Ojo and the Ivorian actress Eloise (Aurelia Eliam) triumphed in this production but overall the casting choices by Kunle Afolayan was hundred percent apt, aside for the Superintendent (Hilda Dokubo) who seemed a little bit heavy on the eye with over-acting. Riikard (Nico Panagio) the South African executive is an honourable mention and of course Lisa (Kemi Lala Akindoju) who should not have been casted for the role because of the nature but managed to pull through.
The screenplay was written by Nigeria’s finest and supposedly highest paid screenwriter Tunde Babalola, the lines in the dialogue were crisp and rich and without seeing his name attached to this production, it is well easy to tell that the script was penned by a professional in the field but the story in itself was faulty with the whodunit style we have seen in his previous work (October 1) with Mr Afolayan which felt more believable with the pieces in place but past the climax when the executives begin to die and a clearer picture is set, a lot of questions are raised like how did the Kenyan executive Jomo (Peter King) die? What happened is clear cut but the end does not seem to add up to what we are supposed to believe and why the killer was eliminating the executives also left a loose end even with all the scenes at the end trying to offer answers but still the question did not feel answered, this did not create an ‘inception like ambiguity’ which was supposed to be the effect but it arose corniness, trying to make the audience sell their belief as though it was a comedy, this did not arise the ‘I need to see this movie a second time to grasp the picture’ it felt more like a letdown. Then the aspect of predictability to Kunle’s Whodunit style, when the silhouette of the killer was revealed, it was not difficult to guess ‘who’ like we saw also in October 1.
The scores for this picture was done by a Hungarian orchestra, so only a Hollywood standard was expected and delivered, although the score that ended this movie again was a letdown, this is supposed to be a world class African cinema uniting production not an Asaba flick, and that closing scene deserved a better score of class standard but was offered a Frank Edwards kind of track, not all music is fit for scoring movies, the director should know better. The stunt direction was a major woe in this production, the scene where the culprit scuffles with Kola was to be very honest, poor.
The sermon the killer attempted to preach about the Nigerian market in such heated up scene did not add taste whatsoever, however the beach scuffle appeared better executed but the cringe-worthiness of the first scuffle overrode it. The CEO has a big budget and had great potential but lost a bit as a result of Mr. Kunle following the script subjectively hook, line and sinker.