Collision Course Review.
The Bolanle Austen-Peters production provides dicey social commentary on police brutality In Nigeria.
Based on police brutality in Nigeria, Collision Course showcases the outrage of #EndSARS in October 2020 as the backdrop for its story. Directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP), the Netflix title – which speaks truth of a related Nigerian reality – premiered on Netflix on September 2, 2022. The story revolves around a law enforcement officer who solicits bribes to survive, but a tense encounter with a wealthy young musician changes his life forever.
As the title suggests, the movie's theme lies at the heart of the story. Dialectics is the movie's fuel. Several pressing issues were raised in the narrative, such as the gap between the poor and the rich, the generation gap, and the separation between the mainland and the island.
Different from other movies critiquing police brutality, the one-hour-and-twelve minutes film goes above and beyond, not only to peek into the lives of the people being shot at, but also the ones pulling the trigger. Some cases, if not all – projected via the two characters of Mide and Magnus – come to show that both parties at either end of the spectrum can be victims. Due to the system meddling in their lives, they may appear to be adversaries of each other because of the social hierarchy imposed on them. As Mide rightly puts it, he is not Magnus' enemy, but it is the system interfering in their lives.
Mide's girlfriend, Hannah (Bamike Olawunmi-Adenibuyan) begins a philosophical monologue commenting on the prevailing stratification of society. In spite of bursting into laughter when she stops, the commentary holds a lot of water regardless. She also talks at length about our lives and its microcosmic reflection in the film. A thrilling example she uses to illustrate classist Nigerian life is the Third Mainland Bridge, which divides the average Lagosian’s life into three worlds — “One side is a Mecca for the bourgeois. The other side represents success and aspiration. Now let's move on to the slums below the bridge, which are home to the hopeless and poor."
As far as delivery goes, Kelechi Udegbe's portrayal of officer Magnus is an engaging representation of the good cop/bad cop trope that captivated the audience. At the anti-climax where Magnus accidentally shoots Mide, the plot twist portrays Magnus as a victim of circumstance. Despite creating sympathy for both characters, this softens the issue and paints police brutality in that instance as unintentional.
Mide's character embodies the daily struggles of many Nigerian youths from various facets of society. In the process of confronting his traumas, Daniel Etim Effiong's character loses his life. This real-life situation is delivered in an impeccable manner by him, creating an incredibly moving and emotional feeling.
Ultimately, Collision Course, which received mixed reactions from the Nigerian audience, illustrates a glimpse of street life in Nigeria. While Mide and Magnus are only one set of people who are represented on screen, the film concludes by suggesting that they embody a universalized picture of a whole. It is for this reason that one shouldn't ignore Bolanle Austen-Peters' project. In this day and age, it is more important than ever to all of humanity.
Currently streaming on Netflix.