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Based on true events. A set of everyday Nigerian travelers's board the last Flamingo Airways flight scheduled to fly from Lagos to Abuja on a fateful Friday night in 2006. The plane cruises at 30,000 feet, tranquil and on schedule. But like a bolt out of the blue, through a mixture of human error, technical failure and sheer bad luck, the plane rapidly develops major difficulties that sends it teetering on the brink of disaster. As the pilots fight with the controls of the stricken plane, a series of flashbacks unravel the twists, turns and leaps of fate that put each passenger on the fateful flight. Young lovers, an elderly couple, a corporate party, a sportsman on the threshold of greatness; all the passengers are caught up in the nightmare scenario and sense the final moments of their lives approach. All... except one! What does he know? Written by
A film which captured a nation's hope for better cinema
Its been almost a year since this film came out and an unbiased review is certainly easier to attempt now than ever before. Whoever watches this now or in the future have to understand that the film premiered a mere week after the Dana Air disaster which saw a Douglas MD-83 plunge into Lagos killing 150. Naturally the film was bound to face severe scrutiny in its homeland. A lot of those "vibe"s have settled and the film remains a landmark and one of a kind on its own right.
As of 2013, Nigeria is mostly producing films which are deeply rooted in a homemade video culture which is hard to grasp by the westerner. Although I personally believe this country, under the right political vision, can be made into a gold mine for film, it is more than realistic to say that all that we have, for now, is a very productive although sub-par industry which most of the times calls films, what are in fact just video productions.
In this climate, Last Flight to Abuja stands out for its quality, film-like screen presence and ambitious non-linear narrative as well as brilliant cinematography. It is also fair to say that Omotola, Kae-Kazim and Monjaro in particular, pull out some larger-than-life performances. I might as well add that these are actors who in all fairness, belong to a better industry, and its only a shame we don't get to see them at all in bigger productions.
Last Flight also boasts great camera work which truly sets it on a league of its own. I believe the producers truly took quality to the forefront by shipping two Arri Alexa from Los Angeles for the shoot. The script which sits at the core of the film, was considered for a BAFTA nomination, and although it failed to realise the part in the end, it nevertheless stands as tribute to the quality which was put into this production and how this was appreciated beyond Nigeria.
The film was shot in a mere 14 days which is next to nothing for a story of this scale. This certainly stops the film from building into a true epic size, which perhaps would have been needed taking into account the subject matter. Still to this day, its casualty-free ending (only affected by the loss of the film's one villain) , is going to leave more than one unsatisfied. Although with foresight, there's not knowing if a bloodier end would have ever seen the film out. Considering how close the release was to the Dana Air disaster, that would have certainly been too much an impact for anyone to watch.
My last word is for director Obi Emelonye, who grabbed, with this film, a phenomenal success, beating The Dark Knight Rises and other blockbusters, in most theatres in Nigeria and Ghana. It is difficult to put a mark on Obi's cinematic impact in his country and beyond. We will have to wait another few years for that and see how Nigeria's film industry grows from this experience. Let me underline here that Obi's true legacy is not only that of his film's artistic value but also that of having restored confidence of Nigerian audiences in their own films.
One can only wish that other Nigerian filmmakers will build on this same ground for a much brighter Nigerian film future.
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