Not to be confused with the 2001 Jackie Chan led Hong Kong film, The Accidental Spy, produced by the duo of Darlington Abuda and Nicola Gregory, and directed by Roland Russel, AY’s iteration of the The Accidental Spy is the latest attempt by persons in the diaspora to profit from the rejuvenated film industry back home. Nothing wrong with that, filmmaking is after all a business like any other and investors naturally gravitate to where returns are promising.
When it comes to attracting bums to cinema halls and keeping them on seats, no male star does the job better than AY Makun. Having hit pay dirt with his trio of comedies featuring his bumbling Akpors character, he has earned the right to write his own cheques in Nollywood.
Naturally, it would be more useful for AY to use this clout to make more credible fare. They could be comedies, since that is his natural habitat, and quite frankly, no one is expecting any different, but they could at least show signs of aspiring to some decency.
The latest Akpors film, 10 Days in Sun City, directed by the South Africa based Adze Ugah, did not set the box office afire as the two previous films, but at least, technically it took the not so remarkable distinction of being the best made of the three films. One would think that AY would at least maintain that tempo, if not improve on it.
The Accidental Spy isn’t AY’s film, not in the way that the Akpors films are. He was hired to star in this one, alongside Ramsey Nouah, Ali Baba and Bryan Okwara- and shares a credit as executive producer, but that does not forgive his complicity in the odious dish that is served here. The film is nearly unwatchable and indeed were it not for my duty as a critic to see the film to its ugly, disastrous ending, I would have walked out about twenty minutes in. This is not a sentiment that comes to me easily.
Where to start?
The incoherent, insensible plot? The unforgivably bad acting by everyone involved, but especially the Caucasian actors? The desperate lack of laughs? The laziness of the whole process? The needlessly lengthy scenes? Tacky product placement?
How about the shocking disrespect for the audience? And the sheer disregard for basic tenets of big screen filmmaking. The Accidental Spy is such a non-starter, it should have gone straight to D-list video. It feels like a terrible scam asking people to leave their homes, volunteer their time and money to come and watch such… unseriousness.
Ramsey Nouah is Prince Johnson, a regular John going about his humdrum life. He just got his heart broken and handed to him by his now ex-girlfriend, Vanessa (Rahama Sadau). In a testament to how barely baked the script is, Johnson’s friends advise him to travel out of the country to heal his despondency, even though he has neither means nor muscle to make the move. In any case the script has its own agenda, one that isn’t particularly beholden to logic. Johnson subsequently wins a betting game and makes good on that most friendly of suggestions.
On arriving London, he somehow manages to get mixed up in a plot to murder some do-gooder returnee scientist, Michelle Adu, who wants to light up the country with a game changing invention (don’t ask what this is, even the film doesn’t know what it means).
Soon Johnson is pursued by two bumbling hit men, as well as the Viper (Miguel Nunez Jr), one of the most dangerous hitmen in the world. Of course nothing is done to establish just how the Viper earned his deadly stripes. This is not that kind of film. The Viper is dangerous only because the script says he is. No sign of brilliance, or ruthlessness, or even basic excitement. Nothing save for a terrible performance from Mr Nunez.
It surprises no one anywhere that a love interest is introduced. She is agent Beverly Walker (Christine Allado) and may well be the most incompetent agent ever put to work. To her credit, her superiors are no better and her whole involvement in the film is solely to give Nouah someone to lock lips with. How utterly original.
It is a sad the depths these folks will plumb all in the name of making movies. It reasons that people can do whatever they like with their money but aren’t there easier, more profitable and sensible ways of putting money to good use beyond posing as filmmakers?
It is harder to conclude about Ramsey Nouah- he has a larger body of work- but The Accidental Spy is easily the worst thing AY has done since he turned his attention to making films.
And trust me, I saw the Juliet Ibrahim produced nonstarter, The Number One Fan.
The writer tweets from @DrWill20
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.