Movie Reviews

Inkabi Review: Brilliant South African Crime Thriller

Frustrated and determined to regain custody of her daughter, Lucy committed to staying clean. However, overwhelmed by pain and frustration, she succumbed to temptation and indulged in a one-night stand...

inkabi review
Inkabi cover [PHTO CREDIT: Action Spaces]

This Inkabi review tries to highlight all the elements of the latest South African action movie. ‘Inkabi’ is a 2024 Netflix Original Crime thriller South African movie directed by Norman Maake that tells the story of a retired hitman turned taxi driver who was part of a traditional, fierce hitmen gang called ‘Inkabi,’ and a young lady named Lucy Portrayed by Michelle Tiren who witnessed the murder of a businessman by one of the Inkabi hitmen. Lucy and Frank established a friendship while Lucy was going through some tough moments due to her irresponsible lifestyle; her child was taken from her by social services because she wasn’t fit to raise her daughter. While these two became friends, Lucy got herself in trouble when she witnessed the businessman being murdered by a hitman, thus making her a target. 

Lucy, grappling with the challenges that led her to witness the crime, finds refuge in Frank’s steadfast protection as they navigate through danger together. Bound by a mutual promise, Frank and Lucy form a tight bond amidst the chaos. With Frank being confronted with the reality of going back to his past life, what lengths would he go to save the life of his friend? Let’s find out

Plot

The first scene immerses us in the world of the Inkabi traditional hitmen engaged in a conversation with a client who offers a deal to eliminate an underworld businessman. The setting and costumes evoke a distinct sense of rich culture, adding to the intrigue of the scene.

In the second scene, we meet Lucy, a single mother living recklessly. She hastily leaves her home to avoid being late for her job as a casino staffer, catching a taxi driven by Frank portrayed by Tshamano Sebe. In her rush to make it to work on time, she abruptly exits Frank’s car due to traffic without paying him in full.

Amid Lucy’s ongoing battle to gain full custody of her daughter Angela, she found herself facing an urgent need to attend court the next morning. With her options limited, she turned to Frank for a ride, only to encounter resistance due to her past behaviour. However, she was able to find another means to the court. Inside the courtroom, the atmosphere was tense as Lucy anxiously awaited the judge’s decision. 

When the verdict was delivered, denying her custody rights due to her turbulent lifestyle and substance abuse, Lucy’s heart sank, and her hopes dashed. Yet, amidst the crushing disappointment, a newfound resolve stirred within her, prompting her to embark on a journey of redemption and self-discovery to reclaim what mattered most: her daughter’s love and trust.

Frustrated and determined to regain custody of her daughter, Lucy committed to staying clean. However, overwhelmed by pain and frustration, she succumbed to temptation and indulged in a one-night stand with Paul, a businessman she had met at the casino where she worked. Little did she know, this moment of pleasure would lead to unforeseen trouble. Soon after, she found herself in a perilous situation when she witnessed Paul’s murder at his home, perpetrated by an Inkabi hitman who also spotted her, making her a target.

As Lucy attempted to flee the scene, her only lifeline was Frank, prompting him to confront his past and revert to his former hitman persona to rescue her. While evading the hitman, Lucy sustained injuries and collapsed. Just as the hitman prepared to strike, Frank intervened, only to discover that the assailant was his former partner and brother. Shocked by this revelation, Frank engaged in a heated altercation, refusing to let his brother take Lucy away.

While Frank tended to Lucy’s wounds, he advised her to report the murder to the police, unaware that they were colluding with the man responsible for Paul’s murder, known as Governor. Upon learning of a new witness, the Governor ordered Lucy to be captured and killed.

Meanwhile, the Inkabi hitman kidnapped Lucy’s daughter to lure her to her demise. Despite this, Frank devised a plan to rescue both Lucy and her daughter, culminating in a one-on-one battle with his former partner that resulted in his partner’s death. However, the fighting scene lacked action and suspense, falling short of expectations for an action crime thriller. As Lucy attempted to escape, the Governor’s men captured her. 

Governor, driven by a longstanding vendetta against Frank, sought revenge by ordering Lucy to be brought to him alive. Faced with his haunting past, Frank took on the daunting task of preparing for Lucy’s rescue. His first step was seeking out the leader of the Inkabi group to gather vital information about Lucy’s abductors.

Armed with this knowledge, Frank braced himself to confront the Governor and save Lucy. However, the scene depicting Frank’s overnight training session didn’t quite meet expectations, leaving uncertainty lingering as to whether their old age played a role. 

Despite setbacks, Frank decided to meet the Governor to have a face-off to save Lucy. However, the Governor subdued Lucy and intervened, killing the Governor but tragically meeting her demise at the hands of the Governor’s men. Before her death, she entrusted her daughter to Frank’s care. The movie concludes with Lucy’s daughter in the village, receiving instruction from the Inkabi gang leader with the possibility.

Cast

One of the flaws in ‘Inkabi’ lies in its casting, as viewers might have anticipated more fitting choices for an action thriller film

Michelle Tiren’s portrayal of Lucy delivered a satisfactory performance. 

The decision to cast Tshamano Sebe as Frank may not have been the most ideal choice for the role. While his performance showed

potential, it ultimately lacked the depth and intensity needed to fully embody the character.

Andile Masai’s performance as Angela was commendable, showcasing her talent and ability to bring depth to the character. 

‘Inkabi’ featured a cast ensemble that included Dumisani Dlamini, Nkosinathi Keswa, Muzi Mthabela, and a host of other talented actors.

Language

The integration of the Zulu language not only added richness to the movie but also provided viewers with an immersive experience of the South African cultural landscape.

For a crime thriller, this movie fell short of delivering the anticipated number of intense fight scenes, leaving much to be desired for action enthusiasts. Even the gunfights, which are often a staple of the genre, lacked the adrenaline-pumping excitement expected from such scenes. However, the cinematography and attention to detail in capturing the setting of the film were commendable, adding depth to the overall viewing experience.

inkabi review
6.0
Review Overview
Summary

Despite the positive aspects, the lack of compelling action sequences may leave some viewers feeling disappointed and questioning the film's overall impact and effectiveness as a crime thriller.

  • Costumes6
  • Casting7
  • Plot5
  • Setting6
  • Story6
Watch 'Nkabi' on Netflix

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