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Black Mail review – Nollywood’s finest head for London with cybercrime thriller

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A film star faces financial and family ruin as sleazy Russian mobsters blackmail him after malware films him watching porn

Nigerian film-maker Obi Emelonye has written, produced and directed more than a dozen films, but his work is barely known beyond the Nollywood distribution circuit that serves viewers in west Africa and immigrant communities elsewhere. However, Black Mail, his London-set latest, is getting a reasonably wide release in the UK at least. The lowish-budget production values, gestural performances and blunt moralism of the scriptwriting puts this very much in the heightened dramatic tradition of mainstream Nigerian cinema, but Emelonye has an accessible style and has picked the topical subject of cybercrime, an approach which might broaden the film’s appeal.

The plot weaves together the story of hapless London-based film actor Ray Chinda (OC Ukeje) and the Russian mobsters who are blackmailing him. Married with children to solicitor Nikki (Julia Holden) but having some connubial trouble, sweet but none-too-tech-savvy Ray discovers that a bit of software he downloaded was actually the most malevolent of malware, the kind that can be used to send a video feed back to spies. Having filmed Ray masturbating while watching porn, sleazy middle-management mafioso Igor (Nikolay Shulik) starts sending Ray blackmail demands. Deeply ashamed, convinced that Nikki will leave him and afraid his career will be ruined if it all comes out, Ray pays him some money, but then turns to his manager-friend Reuben (Alessandro Babalola from Top Boy) for support and advice. Meanwhile, we learn that Igor is also running a prostitution ring exploiting a number of trafficked Belorussian women. However, the film sort of asks us not to judge him too quickly because it transpires that he also has a sick child in desperate need of medical help and he’s being squeezed for results from mob managers further up the food chain.

Continue reading…Leer másCybercrime | The Guardian


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