Effiong paints a vivid picture of the socio-political issues that plague contemporary Nigeria, using the fictional backdrop of the film to highlight a shadowy world of drug trafficking and power hierarchies that mold the nation one crime at a time. If people attempt to upset those in power, the repercussions are serious and immediate: Professor Craig (Bimbo Akintola) pays the price for caring about her community when her husband and child are kidnapped as a result of her efforts to protect small businesses. The kidnapping is blamed on Edima’s son, who is innocent, which is followed by his death soon after. All of this consumes Edima with rightful rage.
A black book, which served as a diary that was used to keep track of gang-related incidents by Edima himself before he retired, becomes the point of interest and concern here. This book, which is currently out of reach, is the only piece of evidence that can prove Edima’s son’s innocence and help punish those who are guilty of systemic oppression and violence. However, nothing is fair in a world built on inequity, which seeps into every superstructure. Thus, Edima is forced to take more unsavory routes and fight his way through countless obstacles to enact the justice that he thinks his son deserves.
While “The Black Book” doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking, as it retreads popular genre tropes in ways that are fairly predictable, the experience is still satisfying, as Effiong enmeshes disparate elements pretty well by the time the climax drops. Sure, there’s a consistent penchant for melodrama, but this exaggerated tone complements Edima’s angst-filled revenge arc until the very end.
“The Black Book” is currently streaming on Netflix.