The last time someone hired AY and Ramsey Nouah for an action-comedy, we got one of the worst Nigerian films in recent times. The Accidental Spy is that film that receives universal hate from both audience and the critical class. The Millions is the latest film to cast both of them but doesn’t fall as low as The Accidental Spy. It elicits a few chuckles—some, at its corny lines; others, for its few terrific comical moments. It is more like Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons: silly, cringeworthy, but at least, AY is not being presented as a sex symbol here.
The Millions is a heist film that wants to make you laugh, but its writer, Tunde Apalowo, is either not funny or too lazy to come up with original jokes, so he seeks to recreate skits we have seen on Instagram. We know Nollywood is obsessed with Instagram, particularly its stars but lifting jokes that have trended on that platform for years marks a new low. Remember that joke about a sex worker with a POS machine? If you have forgotten about it, this film will remind you.
The Millions starts with a shot of Ramsey Nouah smoking; basically, being a bad boy, a role he has taken on—and failed woefully in—since he started acting alongside AY in action-comedies. What follows next is a scam sequence. Nouah’s character, Bem Kator, is a con artist; asides this scam, in which he scored 6 million Naira, we have no reason to believe so. But Apalowo is not interested in details.
After this big score, Bem does what he does best—spend 90% on prostitutes and the other 10 on drinks. You see, Bem is a fun guy, but his fun life is about to be complicated because the 6 million Naira was stolen from a Hausa gang lord, Sheikh (Ali Nuhu). He kidnaps Bem and the cliché “you have so and so time to pay me my money back” follows. Luckily for Bem, a gig worth $42million has fallen into his laps. If he can pull it off, he can pay his debt, and go back to spending on prostitutes and drinks. The problem: the money is in a house heavily protected by an army of six soldiers. The solution: Bem’s girlfriend (a charismatic Nancy Isime) lives next to the house, he just needs to dig a tunnel that will take him to the money. To dig this tunnel, he approaches his friend Jerome (played by the usually excellent Blossom Chukwujekwu). Jerome is a structural engineer frustrated with his current job, he used to work jobs with Bem. He agrees, and the heist is set in motions.
Heist films are usually energetic, brilliant and full of suspense. You get to see the brilliance of the mastermind of the operation and at some point, it might seem like the whole plan will go to shit. But no, there is no brilliant mastermind here, just an oversabi structural engineer. Forget suspense too. However, it isn’t all bad, there is something to like about this Nollywood heist film—it confirms that Ramsey Nouah is not an action-comedy star (or he has been in the wrong ones).
Nouah’s performance is similar to his offerings in Merry Men and The Accidental Spy. He is seriously trying so hard to do something he’s not particularly capable of. When he is lying beside girlfriend, Nancy Isime or sharing screen with the brilliant Chukwujekwu, he is the talented actor we know; but when he is with AY and trying to be funny and dropping corny lines, he is a shadow of himself.
Speaking of AY, thank goodness he isn’t in any sex scene here, we still have not recovered from the ridiculous sex scene with Ireti Doyle in Merry Men. He gets less screen time, and unsurprisingly, that works well for everyone. The best performance comes from Toyin Abraham, who is perfect for films like this- she appears in two or three scenes and shines effortlessly.
The Millions does not offer much, its writing is clumsy; its cinematography is unimaginative, and the directing from Toka McBaror and Apalowo is just as wonky as the script. Producer Chika Lynn boasts about spending 9.2 million Naira to dig the tunnel, she even had to make a video for us, but that feeds Nollywood’s worrying obsession with tabloid drama and razzmatazz. Such investment and effort should have gone into reworking this script that’s destined to fail.