Movie Reviews

Soon Comes Night Review: A Glimpse Into Post-Apartheid South Africa

Although they manage to escape prison, the execution of the prison break lacks creativity and fails to live up to its potential as a pivotal plot twist.

soon Comes Night review
Soon Comes Night cover [PHOTO CREDIT: IMDb]

This Soon Comes Night review left no stone unturned! ‘Soon Comes Night’ is a 2024 Netflix mini-series that unveils the journey of Alex Shabane, a freedom fighter turned heist king, who strays from the path of revolution, leading him to face justice from a cop seeking redemption. Based on true events, the series follows Shabane’s descent into crime alongside his comrades, as they navigate betrayal, revenge, and the consequences of their actions.

Plot

The series opens with a gripping scene of a heist led by Captain Alex Shabane and his four-man gang targeting a cash-in-transit truck. Shabane, a former freedom fighter, orchestrates these heists as a revolutionary act to redistribute wealth to the less privileged in South Africa. Alongside his comrades – Moskow, Vincent, and the recruit Thulani – Shabane sees their actions as akin to a modern-day Robin Hood tale. However, to the government and law enforcement, they’re viewed as nothing more than greedy criminals taking advantage of the system after being denied the promised rewards of their past struggles.

Shabane’s decision to turn to a life of crime disappoints his former comrades, now government officials Maseko and Zungu, who offer him a choice: join them or face the consequences. His refusal comes as no surprise, but the unexpected death of Malosaya leads to a tense confrontation, with Shabanne vowing revenge. However, the integration of flashbacks from the 80s/90s and the present lacks coherence, failing to illustrate the transition of Shabanne’s former comrades from anti-government fighters to government officials. While plot twists are expected in crime dramas, some twists remain unexplained, leaving gaps in the narrative.

soon Comes Night MOVIE review
Alex Shabane, played by Kwenzo Ngcobo, in a scene from “Soon Comes Night”. [PHOTO CREDIT: IOL]

Seeking revenge for Malosaya’s death and to hold the government accountable for their perceived betrayals, Shabane and his crew persist with their heists. However, a botched operation resulted in the deaths of two officers, prompting the government to form a task force led by Sakkie to pursue Shabane and his associates. Sakkie, grappling with personal turmoil and a dysfunctional police force, finds himself entangled in another enigmatic subplot: solving the Pimville Slasher case. Despite his efforts, the motive behind the gruesome murders remains unresolved, leaving viewers puzzled. Furthermore, Sakkie’s decision to carry two bags of drugs adds another layer of mystery to his character, contributing to the overall confusion and gaps in his storyline.

Shabane’s romantic life adds an intriguing dimension to the narrative. He finds himself entangled with two women: Lesedi and Pearl. His relationship with Lesedi dates back to their teenage years, resulting in a son. However, due to Shabane’s constant evasions, Lesedi marries another man, whose absence later in the story remains unexplained. On the other hand, Pearl represents more of a casual relationship, characterized by attention-seeking behavior and frequent humiliation. Ultimately, Pearl betrays Shabane by informing the government about their next heist, leading to Shabane and two crew members being captured. Although they manage to escape prison, the execution of the prison break lacks creativity and fails to live up to its potential as a pivotal plot twist.

Following the failed attempt to capture Shabane’s comrades, Sakkie is ousted from the case and replaced by Sekoati as the new team leader. Delving into Sekoati’s backstory sheds light on her motivations for becoming a police officer and her connection to Sakkie. Sakkie, once an apartheid-era policeman, had solved the case of Sekoati’s father’s murder, a crime she had witnessed. However, revelations from Maseko and Zungu expose the truth behind her father’s death and the real culprit, shattering Sekoati’s beliefs and forcing her to confront the lies upon which her aspirations were built.

After Pearl’s betrayal, Vincent and Thulani opt for vengeance and attempt to murder her. However, their plan backfires tragically, resulting in the deaths of two police officers and the loss of young Thulani’s life. This catastrophe leads to the dissolution of the task force, with Sekoati demoted to the role of a fitness coach and Moscow, Shabane’s trusted ally, departing from the crew. Despite the potential for heightened action and suspense, the plot takes an unexpected turn after the fourth episode, veering away from its original trajectory. The filmmakers fail to maintain focus, resulting in numerous unnecessary and poorly executed scenes. The much-anticipated ‘Decoy plan’ falls flat, proving to be just another futile and disappointing endeavour. Ultimately, the storyline suffers from a lack of coherence and fails to deliver on its initial promise.

soon Comes Night MOVIE review
A scene from the South African drama series, ‘Soon Comes Night’ [PHOTO CREDIT: Worldscreenings]

Despite the integration of apartheid and post-apartheid eras through flashbacks, ‘Soon Comes Night’ fails to fully explore Shabanne and his crew’s motives, falling short of providing a comprehensive understanding. Instead, the series primarily focuses on themes of thuggery and rants revolving around notions of ‘freedom and broken promises.’

The conclusion of the series is best described as ‘convenient,’ with Shabane’s sudden affliction with an undisclosed illness. This resolution feels like a cop-out of the scriptwriters lacking creativity in concluding the story. Perhaps there could have been more to the ending, but unfortunately, it falls flat.

Cast

While ‘Soon Comes Night’ has its narrative fluctuations, the standout element is undeniably the acting performances. 

Albert Pretorius in the role of Sakkie, delivers a commendable portrayal, capturing the essence of a depressed, isolated, and redemption-seeking police officer.

Kwenzo Ngcobo shines as Shabane, stealing the spotlight with a compelling portrayal. His portrayal blends toughness, aloofness, sexiness, and mystery, elevating the excitement of the show. Shabane’s enigmatic character keeps viewers guessing, adding an extra layer of thrill to the series.

Gaosi Raditholo excels in her role as Shabane’s love interest, skillfully portraying the internal conflict of a nursery school teacher torn between morality and love.

Diddy Padi also executed her role perfectly as the attention-seeking and later on, betraying girlfriend.

Language

‘Soon Comes Night’ authentically captures the essence of South Africa by incorporating a diverse array of languages such as English, Zulu, Tswana, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Soto, and more. This linguistic tapestry adds vibrancy, authenticity, and emotional resonance to the series, enhancing its realism and cultural depth.

While ‘Soon Comes Night’ boasts strong performances, good cinematography and cultural authenticity, its narrative falters at times with unresolved plot points and missed opportunities for deeper exploration. Despite its shortcomings, the series offers a gripping portrayal of crime, betrayal, and redemption set against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa.

 

soon Comes Night MOVIE review
7.2
Review Overview
Summary

Despite its shortcomings, the series offers a gripping portrayal of crime, betrayal, and redemption set against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa.

  • Costumes8
  • Casting9
  • Plot6
  • Setting6
  • Story7
Watch 'soon comes night' on Netflix

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