Catch A Fire (2006)

DVD Cover (Focus Features)
Genres: Biopic (Feature), Political Thriller, Thriller
The true story of anti-apartheid activists in South Africa, and particularly the life of Patrick Chamusso, a timid foreman at Secunda CTL, the largest synthetic fuel plant in the world. Patrick is wrongly accused, imprisoned and tortured for an attempt to bomb the plant, with the injustice transforming the apolitical worker into a radicalised insurgent, who then carries out his own successful sabotage mission. --TMDb
Phillip Noyce Phillip Noyce
Tim Robbins Tim Robbins
Derek Luke Derek Luke
Bonnie Henna Bonnie Henna
Mncedisi Shabangu Mncedisi Shabangu
Tumisho Masha Tumisho Masha

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 03, 2006
When it comes to ups and downs, director Phillip Noyce has had his share of both. He has been at the helm of some of the best thrillers, and at the helm of some of the worst. His track record is like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger" really got his career cooking, but then he doused that fire with lukewarm bogs like "The Saint", "The Bone Collector", and the horribly campy "Sliver". He re-kindled the spark with two gorgeous and brilliant efforts, "Rabbit Proof Fence" and "The Quiet American", both of which garnered him quite a bit of recognition when awards time came around. Luckily for Mr. Noyce, and his audiences, he has decided to continue his upward climb back to the top of the directorial ladder. His latest cinematic achievement, the fierce and powerful "Catch A Fire", is a return to form for a director primarily known for his skill with the thriller and suspense film. With "Catch A Fire", Noyce is back to making serious statements, much like he did with "Rabbit Proof Fence". He is obviously a man with serious political ideologies, and this film, like some of his others, represents those in a no nonsense approach that is both refreshing and sometimes frightening. "Catch A Fire" deals with the issue of the South African Apartheid that dominates headlines in the 1980's.

The film centers around the character of Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke), a young South African man who works very hard at the mines for his family - his two children, his somewhat spoiled and luxurious wife (Bonnie Mbuli), and his mother. He has a very good life. In his spare time, he coaches the children of his village in soccer. One night, while he is away, the mine where he works is bombed by an anti-Apartheid terrorist organization, and he is arrested as a suspect in the bombing. Enter Tim Robbins as Nic Vos, the head of the anti-terrorism unit in South Africa, a somewhat ruthless man who will do anything it takes to protect his country, and his family. After going about some 'questionable' tactics to get what he wants, Patrick is released, but cannot remove the rage he is feeling for what has been done to he and his family. So, to exact revenge, he joins up with the same terrorist organization that bombed the mine to begin with, and he trains to one day go back to the mine and cause even greater damage. All the while, Tim Robbins' character stays hot on the trail of both he and the organization for which he works. "Catch A Fire" deals with the story of one man struggling to make things right for he and his family, and the story of one man who will stop at nothing to protect his family, and a country that he loves, no matter what the cost.

Lavishly photographed, "Catch A Fire" is just breathtaking in scope and message. Director Phillip Noyce manages to not get bogged down in all of the politics that surrounded Apartheid and he instead focuses strictly on the story of Patrick Chamusso and Nic Vos, two totally different men who probably have a lot more in common than either would like to admit. There are scenes of immense power here, as when Patrick is led into an interrogation room to discover that his wife is bound and bleeding on the floor next to him, as an attempt to get him to talk. There is another equally powerful scene when Tim Robbins arrives home to find an ambulance wheeling a stretcher towards his house, only to discover that had a terrorist had broken in with the intent to kill he and his family. We don't see South Africa as a very nice place to live here, but since this film was set back when Apartheid was rampant, we probably don't expect it to be a very nice place to live either.

When awards season gets up and running, expect Tim Robbins and Derek Luke to appear on more than one or two lists for award nominations. Derek Luke outdoes his performance in "Antwone Fisher" with a something just barely short of astonishing. He carries such a presence on screen and demands such attention - I would go out and say he is the next Denzel Washington. He really captured that same kind of power than Denzel captures. As Nic Vos, Tim Robbins is fearless and frightening and quite powerful. Just the icy stare in his eyes during some of these scenes - they are enough to send chills down your spine. Robbins has been on a role lately, and this performance should prove any "Mystic River" nay-sayers totally wrong. Each and every performance in this film was as solid as they come, and they all help propel "Catch A Fire" to a high level of achievement.

The sad aspect to this story is that the film made very little money opening weekend - close to two million dollars only. This is an absolute shame. "Catch A Fire" is one of the strongest and most powerful films of the year, and it features two standout performances, and some gorgeous cinematography. "Catch A Fire" deserves an audience - it deserves to make enough money to make it a serious contender come awards season. Otherwise, it will quickly split from theatres, slowly dissolve onto DVD shelves in a couple of months, and be all but forgotten when the ballots are mailed out to the voters. "Catch A Fire" should not be forgotten. Here is my suggestion to you out there - give the film a chance. If you enjoy it, tell two friends about it. If at least one of them enjoy it, they'll tell another friend and so on and so forth. Maybe, if they all tell enough of their friends, we can add a few extra million onto the revenue of this film and get its awareness out there. When a film like "Saw III" takes top spot, and a film like "Catch A Fire" can't crack the top ten, we need to start questioning what kind of films we are absorbing these days. Frankly, it scares me.

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