One cannot but be appalled when law enforcement fails to stop the activities of individuals who take the law into their own hands. Unfortunately, there are people like that in this society, who seem to be above the law – individuals whose actions constantly endanger the lives of others and cause a breach of public peace. These career criminals are buoyed by the apparent helplessness of law enforcement personnel who appear not to know how to handle them. At times, this reluctance or failure is predicated on the fact that these rogues grease their palms.

Dapo (Tope Tedela), a lottery operator, is threatened by a hardened criminal, Innocent (Femi Branch), who insists on being paid for a lottery game he lost. The young man and his girlfriend, Halima (Linda Ejiofor), run helter-skelter to find Innocent’s ‘money’, resulting in avoidable jeopardy.

In 2010, during the now defunct Best of the Best of Film and Television (BOBTV) organized by the late Amaka Igwe and Peter Igho, who was then Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), promised that his organization will sponsor a movie that tells a story about lotteries with the sum of ten million naira (N10,000,000.00). During BOBTV 2011, the commission went ahead to release the eligibility criteria for the project, but that was the last time anyone heard anything about that idea before Igho left the commission in 2013.

Screenwriter Naz Onuzo chooses the lottery business as the hook for his story, which then veers into adventure, crime and family disagreements. Granted that it is a yet-to-be explored story in Nollywood, Onuzo could have given far-reaching insights on the art of lottery, all the same, telling a fabulous story chiefly because it is a business that has undergone noticeable modifications in the last few years and attracted a new generation of operators and clientele. Owing to the fact that Out of Luck just scratches the surface, on lotteries in Nigeria, other filmmakers need to follow the initiative and tell interesting stories on the business, which seems to be growing daily.

A slow-paced screenplay and drab dialogue fuse to make the film quite boring. Dialogue, it must be said, could determine the degree to which an audience appreciates a film. Well-written dialogue would have enhanced the quality of Out of Luck, which has unexpected turns and outcomes that are sloppy rather than intriguing, robbing the movie the chance to fully realize it’s potential. For instance, it is inconceivable that Halima could inform the bakery about the planned robbery and not inform her lover!

Indeed, the film’s dialogue is awkward because the cast sound preppy and are not at home in Pidgin English. It is either the screenplay was not written in Pidgin English or there were inadequate rehearsals to get the cast acquainted with the language. Even the American accent spoken by Kunle, Remi’s character is inconsistent. At a point, the accent is toned down considerably. In the hospital scene, Halima, who is meant to have limited education speaks very good grammar whilst conversing with Bisola.

The use of slapstick comedy as demonstrated by the roles played by Chigul and Niyi Johnson (Yinka), a regular but shallow feature in recent films, does not redeem this flick. Comedy that is laden with subtext is golden as viewers laugh and have food for thought at the same time.

Though Dapo looks like a struggling young man, given his hairstyle and slim frame, Halima looks too fresh-faced to be an impoverished young lady. Tanimo (Sambasa Nzeribe) speaks in a similar manner as he did in A Mile from Home, Ojuju, and A Soldier’s Story. Nzeribe should show his versatility as an actor instead of allowing himself to be stereotyped.

In the end, Out of Luck is unsatisfactory as its narrative fails to grab our attention.

Image: www.indiewire.com

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