Despite an intriguing historical setup, ‘76 struggles to tell a cohesive political story, and loses its thread as the personal subplots overshadow the events of the coup. Ramsey Nouah does a fine job as Captain Dewa, lacing his “upstanding soldier” performance with just enough mystique to leave his integrity – and past – in doubt. However, ‘76 doesn’t bother to flesh out the rest of its characters, which causes problems when the film runs off track to focus on the consequences of the first act.
At one point it seems like the film is going somewhere interesting with Dewa’s relationship with both his wife’s family and his own past but both subplots end up falling by the wayside. While the military coup itself makes for some tense sequences, Dewa’s rapidly unravelling family situation is incredulously simplistic, based on “misunderstandings” that wouldn’t feel out of a place in a cringey rom-com. These cliches suck any edge out of ‘76 as the final act stretches to wrap the plot up in a tidy bow.
Director Izu Ojukwu does deserve credit for diving headfirst into the ‘70s, and shooting on 16mm is a cracking choice that does wonders for ‘76’s woozy texture. Unfortunately, it seems like they may have blown the budget on nailing the groovy feel through costuming and soundtrack, and left nothing to actually shoot and edit the movie. Awkward dubbing and editing snafus are rampant in ‘76, undermining all the great work that has gone into pre-production.
‘76 aims to take Nollywood filmmaking in a new direction, stepping out of the box to deliver a political thriller “inspired by true events”. While this weighty genre fits perfectly with the hefty moralism you’d expect from a Nollywood movie, a lacklustre plot and editing issues prevent ‘76 from reaching its full potential.
CAST: Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Memory Savanhu
DIRECTOR: Izu Ojukwu
WRITER: Emmanuel Okomanyi
SYNOPSIS: A soldier and his young pregnant wife find themselves wrapped up in the 1976 military coup and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, the Head of State of Nigeria. This historic event threatens to tear them apart, as their past, present and future comes under fire in this tense thriller.