Movie review: Action-packed ‘Criminal’ explores love and moral boundaries

Movie review: Action-packed ‘Criminal’ explores love and moral boundaries
Movie review: Action-packed ‘Criminal’ explores love and moral boundaries

Criminal, directed by Dolapo Adigun and penned by Niyi Akinmolayan, is a gripping Nollywood drama that delves deep into themes of love, desperation, and moral ambiguity. Set entirely within the confines of a bustling Lagos hospital, the film chronicles the harrowing ordeal of Dr. Amara, a principled medical professional, as she faces a life-threatening dilemma

The film opens on what seems to be a routine day for Dr. Amara, played by the talented Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi. Her performance stands out, particularly through her voice acting, which adds depth to her audacious character. The tranquillity of the hospital is shattered when Uzor, portrayed by Uzor Arukwe, barges in, demanding immediate medical attention for his gravely injured brother, Chima. Uzor’s character, with his genuine intimidating presence, sets the tone for the film’s high-stakes drama.

The narrative is tightly wound around Uzor’s desperate bid to save his brother, which leads him to take the hospital staff and patients hostage. This scenario creates a claustrophobic and suspenseful atmosphere, as every action and decision is laced with the potential for violence. The film’s strength lies in its ability to maintain this tension throughout, effectively using both action and sound to keep the audience on edge.

Criminal excels in its exploration of familial love and the extreme measures it can drive individuals to. The contrasting moral compasses of Dr. Amara and Uzor provide a compelling study of ethical boundaries. Dr. Amara’s steadfast adherence to her principles clashes dramatically with Uzor’s willingness to cross lines for the sake of his brother, prompting questions from me as a viewer on what I might do in similar circumstances.

The supporting cast, including Segun Arinze and Chuks Joseph, delivers strong performances, though Joseph’s portrayal at times veers into overacting. Notably, OG Tega’s involvement as both a comedian and a trained doctor adds authenticity to the medical scenes, showcasing deliberate and thoughtful casting choices.

While the film’s suspense is a significant draw, it also poses a double-edged sword. Uzor’s repeated threats, while heightening tension, become predictable, which paradoxically deepens the audience’s understanding of his character but also stretches the narrative. The use of flashbacks to provide backstory is effective, though the prolonged tension around Chima’s fate occasionally feels excessive, risking viewer fatigue.

Visually and auditorily, Criminal is a triumph. The deliberate use of visual cues and sound design aids in creating an immersive experience that resonates well with the audience. This technical proficiency is reflected in the applause the film received as the credits rolled, signalling its successful engagement with viewers.

Criminal is a well-crafted film that navigates complex emotional and ethical landscapes. Its exploration of love and desperation, combined with strong performances and high production values, make it a standout in Nollywood cinema. While it occasionally stumbles with pacing, the film’s ability to provoke thought and maintain suspense ensures it leaves a lasting impact. I could sense a tense mood among the audience at the cinema where I saw the movie. Criminal deserves a 7/10 rating and is worth seeing again.

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