iNumber Number

It’s not surprising that in the shantytowns outside Johannesburg, most cops have gone corrupt. Soweto is a land of lawlessness, where every cop goes through a dilemma; risk their lives on a daily basis to enforce the law for a meager salary, or join the crime lords and live like kings. 

The last two good cops left in Soweto township of South Africa are Chili (S’dumo Mtshali) and Shoes (Presley Chweneyagae). Against all odds they still manage to work together to put away the bad guys without any assistance from the rest of the corrupt police force. 

The film begins with an exhilarating opening sequence that has Chili’s cover blown and tied to a chair about to be tortured or killed. It’s Shoe to the rescue, but he has no weapons, only a walkie-talkie to communicate with his partner and no time to call for backup. Outnumbered, the two must work together to put a bold plan into action.

Writer and director Donovan Marsh, influenced by such masters of the gangster and heist genre as Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, tells a sometimes absurdly tragic/comic story of a hastily planned robbery of an armored money truck in transit, which is apparently common in the extremely dangerous poor parts of South Africa, where people are so desperate, they often resort to poorly thought out schemes to get rich quick.

Our cop buddies and best friends are an unlikely duo to be reckoned with; Chili is the hulking muscle with nerves of steel able to infiltrate any crime gang convincingly, while Shoes is the loveable experienced voice of reason on the outside looking in, making sure his partner doesn’t get himself killed.

The strikingly stylish sepia tinged images give a rich texture that exudes a feeling of oppressive heat. Visually, it almost felt like watching Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008), with its extreme camera angles and filtered lenses giving an ant’s eye view of the scorched world that seems to give the camera, free to move into the smallest spaces, a life of its own and the resulting images are nothing short of spectacular.  

After being denied the reward owed to them, Chili, conflicted about continuing on their righteous path, decide to help a group of criminals to rob an armored truck and make some quick easy cash. Shoes reluctantly agrees to go along with the plan but in Soweto nothing goes as planned and soon our two hero cops are neck deep in a suspenseful bloody show down.

Filmed in actual locations in the Soweto Township of Johannesburg South Africa, the film is a non-stop adrenalin rush that doesn’t let up. The situations and thrilling set pieces are so inventively filmed with an array of in-camera visual effects like stop motion, fast motion and slow motion that help give the film a frenetic feeling that engages the audience to experience the film in an immersive way. 

The organic home grown soundtrack, which was actually performed by one of the cast members, who himself was a real gangster and a musician in Soweto, helps to give the film an authentic feel.

iNumber Number (2013), the title of the film is Zulu gangster slang for a crime job, had its world premiere here in Toronto on Sept. 12, 2013 and is scheduled for a big release in South Africa in March 2014, and in North American by XYZ films. Don’t miss this extremely entertaining must-see film for action fans.


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