Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata clearly feels passionate about the problems in his country, but despite the presence of Hollywood stars the movie is made in a style that will feel amateurish to Western audiences. Obvious screenwriting is the main problem, ramping up melodrama when political intensity is needed. Essentially, a more organic approach to storytelling, with attention to the characters instead of the themes, would have made this a much more powerful thriller.
After studying in America, 21-year-old Ebiere (Mbong Amata) returns home to her Niger Delta community just in time to witness a horrific oil-company accident in which most of her family perishes. As the most educated person in her village, she rises to a position of leadership among the rebels fighting for fairer treatment from petrol executive Tom (Mickey Rourke) and the corrupt military, which responds with relentless violence, betraying and brutalising the villagers. As she falls for rebel commander Dede (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), Ebiere becomes even more important. And things take a further turn when she's charged with murder after a protest turns fatal. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, desperate Nigerians (including Wyclef Jean and Akon) take Tom hostage along with a local reporter (Kim Basinger) to demand justice for Ebiere's plight.
Writer-director Amata made this film three years ago, then reworked it to add the L.A. sequences in an effort to make Nigeria's struggle feel more current in the context of global activism. This works to an extent, as it stirs the hot topic of terrorism into the mix. But the big action set pieces are directed and edited in a choppy way that feels undercooked. The story of desperate political activism amid heavy-handed corruption is compelling, but it's watered down by some rather soapy interpersonal plot points. Still, the film remains involving, a powerful tale of little guys standing up to forces much bigger than themselves simply in the name of what's right.
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