Merry Men 2: Is It Worth Your Time?

Merry Men 2

I was in the village when “Merry Men 2” came out. It was one movie I billed to watch but the season caught me in the village and I forgot about it in the noise, glamor, and intrigues of weddings, house warming, and meeting old aunties and avoiding the go-get-married gang. I got on Twitter one day and saw a tweet from Jerry Chiemeke. “Merry Men 2,” he wrote, “is a convoluted, muddled up, ill-executed version of an attempt to combine sequences from Fast & Furious and Ocean’s Eleven. Expensive glitch. To enjoy this film, you have to switch off all your cognitives. Overused jokes, over-the-top slapstick routines. 1.5/5”

Because I rather regard his opinions highly, I decided the film must be bad and that they lost a chance to improve on their weak but impressive part one. My resolve to watch it increased. So this afternoon, pushing my slam-full physical and literal desks aside and ignoring the call for a much-neglected much-needed siesta, I headed to the cinema. The slow traffic and the faulty elevator meant I ran the two staircases in order to catch up. I didn’t want to miss a second. I wanted to catch it all, from opening credits to closing credits, every single word, every camera angle. By the time I got settled in the cinema, I was out of breath and patience. And out of any kindness I may want to have due to the fact that my sweetheart Nancy Isime is part of the cast – get the damned film started.

What did they get wrong?

“Merry Men 2: Another Mission” is directed by Moses Inwang and co-produced by AY Makun. I am not AY’s fan, not of his comedy, not his skits, not his acting, and of his past movies none of which has impressed me so much so far. Which is why I watched “Merry Men 2” with a suspicious eye. I think the role played by Williams Uchemba could have been combined and given to Falz who had very little to do in the show. Williams was a distraction that the film didn’t need.

One giant pothole in the plot is the Zara role played by Ufuoma McDermott. She is being driven in a black maria before Madam Maduka’s girls intercepted them. Zara is portrayed as a massive dangerous criminal. How then is she transported at night with just one month to her term ending? Whose idea is it to move a criminal of that stature? Which judge ordered this convenient transfer just after Dame needs Zara? This doesn’t just reek of the farfetched, it is falsehood in itself.

And are you not surprised that ordinary girls suddenly become efficient killing machines just as their loved ones are kidnapped? Sophie played by Nancy Isime is the biggest wonderment. In part one, she was shown as a little more than a sex-machine. Suddenly, she is kicking asses and pilling merry men on top of themselves.

The fight scenes are full of weaknesses and the ridiculous. Fight scenes are supposed to entertain but they didn’t entertain me so much, they didn’t impress me greatly, and they didn’t look realistic; in fact, there are more than a few ridiculous moments like when an injured AY suddenly goes wild and have three men flying and somer-tumbling midair. But the ridiculosity (I don’t know if there is such a word in the English lexicon nor do I care) of the fight scenes is not new to me. Hollywood is the bastion of the ridiculous, screeching impossibilities, and outright lies. I watched Dwayne Johnson grab a plane and seize it mid-air. I once watched Jason Statham drive a car between two trucks at high speed, using a space that a bicycle would struggle to go through. I watched the John Wick fellow kill 12 men with weapons ranging from a hand fork to a shin bone. It is an incredible world so I am not mad that Nollywood has refused to be left behind.

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While the acting of Ramsey Noah in this film cements his claim as the best thing happening on the Nigerian big screen and Jim Iyke was hot, Falz proved to be average and in more than a few occasions I screamed inside for AY to just shut up.

We have seen the concept of the movie before. A bad influential person (Ireti Doyle) kidnaps the loved one of a good but former crooked (Ramsey Nouah’s sister and Jim Iyke’s wife played by Rosy Meuer the woman Tonto Dikeh accused of snatching her husband – a little gossip won’t hurt), and bad person wants to draw good person back into crime and good/former bad person is caught between returning to their abandoned past and saving their loved one. But in defense of the makers and writers of “Merry Men 2”, there is a scarcity of originality today. Hollywood billion-dollars-raking movies are either remakes or sequels (show your hands “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, “Joker”, “Captain Marvel”, “Aladdin“, “Toy Story 4”, etc). So it is the execution of plots that make or spoil a movie.

What Merry Men 2 got right

I already pointed at the performance of Ramsey Nouah. The guy is a great thespian and the fact that he comes to a show and kills his role without breaking a sweat makes him stand out. Jim Iyke was brilliantly ok. Nancy Isime was good and Reginald Daniels proved with her small role among the merry women that she can also do cinema movies and not the cheap Asaba movies she has become a legend in. But the most outstanding performance for me came from Ufuoma McDermott. She was good, the way she carried her character, the carefree brilliance with which she executed her role of a gangster deserves to be remembered. She should get a nomination for the Best Supporting Actress in our Oscar-equivalence (we need a strong awards platform for Nollywood – AMVCA is not just up to it but this is a matter for another day).

Playing an Igbo woman suits Ireti Doyle and I can’t fault her attempt at Igbo. She was good and the fact that she was a composite of all the bad women in Nigeria politics especially Diezani Alison-Madueke is not lost on us. At the beginning of the show when she is seen ill and appears to be dying echo some of the drumbeats of the Diezani saga. Thankfully there is no sex scene for Doyle like the cringe-worthy ones in the previous part.

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There is no need talking about the visuals, sound, and costume. The average Nollywood cinema movie now hits above average here. What I liked most about the sound was the slow rendition of Teni’s “Ranger” song. During the time Ramsey Nouah and Jim Iyke stand worrying over their sister/wife and that time that Zara is united with her son, the song brought emotional goose pimples to my other face.

Overall, I will rate “Merry Men 2” 7/10. They have now made an action movie where glasses are shattered and bullets rain. If “Merry Men” is a franchise, I welcome it. As this one was better than part one, I believe part three will be better than “Another Mission”. Rather than shutting them down for being like “Fast and Furious” we should encourage them. I only plead that they should leave the Ireti Doyle villain storyline. She survived the final shootout which leaves the possibility of her coming back wide open. Enough, I beg in Robb Stark’s mother’s dying voice.

And to answer the title question, yes, “Merry Men 2” is worth your time. I have wasted my time watching films this past year. See this, this, and this, but “Merry Men 2” is not a waste of time. It is a good ambassador of Nollywood. Nollywood is popular culture, popular culture is literature and literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I can claim that “Fast and Furious” is a multi-character poor cousin of James Bond and I will make it stick. But what is the use? It is a small world.

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