After putting out well-received movies like The Wedding Party 1 & 2 as well as last year’s DOD: Day of Destiny, Inkblot productions is back with its first movie of the year titled Charge and Bail. The legal drama is the seventh collaboration between Inkblot Productions and Film One Entertainment.
Like the name implies, the movie focuses on a certain kind of lawyer, the type who don’t wait for clients to come to them instead they lobby outside courts looking for those accused with committing criminal offences. Unlike other lawyers who take pride in looking their best, these lawyers can be identified by their worn out wigs, dirty brown collars and dusty shoes worn out from chasing clients.
Directed by Uyoyou Adia, Charge and Bail revolves around Boma, a repatriate lawyer from a wealthy family. She leaves her career abroad to practice law with her father- a renowned lawyer which explains why the movie opens with an extravagant welcome back party thrown in her honour. As most Nigerians know, you have to go through the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and that’s what we see Boma trying to do next. Despite her father’s attempts to get her placed at his company, she finds herself stuck at a charge and bail law firm run by her father’s rival Wole played by Femi Adebayo.
At first, Boma played by Zainab Balogun is the stereotypical rich kid who is unhappy to mix with those outside of her socio-economic class. She is the spoilt, snotty upper-class lawyer who sneers at the ‘lawlessness’ associated with Charge and Bail lawyers. Unlike her dad’s prestigious firm, this firm practises unethical standards that demean the noble profession of Law. Like real-life charge and bail lawyers who are despised by other lawyers, the characters in this movie loiter in the court premises of inferior courts, fighting over potential clients. They take up cases that they can win quickly with little regard for the defendants charging N500,000 each. Lawyers are forbidden from engaging in all kinds of open advertisement of their services. This doesn’t stop charge and bail lawyers as depicted in this movie.
Boma slowly navigates her way through office politics, the charge and bail situation as well as the interesting Nigerian justice system depicted in the film. She quickly turns into a bleeding heart lawyer trying to fight for the innocent and against the corrupt world around her. Going against the charge and bail way of avoiding trials and chasing money, she starts going all out for her clients, like a normal lawyer should.
Her unusual approach catches the eye of her boss, Dotun played by Stan Nze, who decides to educate her on the charge and bail ways. His involvement in her case and life slowly adds some romance to the legal drama. Away from these two, Craze Clown, Eso Dike and Chigul delivered mostly well-timed humour while veteran Bimbo Manuel, Chris Iheuwa, Folu Storms and Tope Olowoniyan bring the drama.
With medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, the characters use the right jargon and go through the expected surgeries and other practices associated with the field. This is usually the case in legal dramas and other films that are centred on a specific profession or theme. While Charge and Bail does offer some insight on this type of lawyer, it fails to live up to its full potential as a thematic film when it comes to talking about the law and using legal terms. The use of the law is basic at most.
Some scenes feel incomplete while others come across as unnecessary. Scenes with Elozonam Ogbolu, Pere Egbi of Big Brother Nigeria, Chigul and Craze Clown’s characters all fall into this meh pile. Ogbolu barely has any lines the few times he shows up and Egbi appears to be overacting as he shouts his lines.
While many viewers can relate to certain aspects of the movie like the NYSC struggles, corruption and the issues with our justice system, Dotun’s coat has no business being in this movie. What Nigerian lawyer would wear a coat that thick and flamboyant in this Nigerian heat? It’s more suited for a Harvey Specter, even though we doubt that the legendary fictional lawyer would be caught dead in it.
Against the backdrop of a demanding case and family drama, we see some sparks fly between the two as the boss realises there is more to the rich kid while the latter finds a heart underneath Dotun’s hard exterior. By the end, it’s less of a legal drama and more of a rom-com as the audience anxiously waits for the couple to finally have that first kiss. However, the kiss, when it does happen is cringe worthy and unromantic. Charge and Bail is mostly relatable and makes for a decent watch if you don’t go in with a lot of expectations.