Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
Interstellar Review
The Making Of The West Wing
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Derek Luke
Bonnie Mbuli
Tim Robbins.
Directors
Philip Noyce.
Screenwriters
Shawn Slovo.
Running Time
101 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Citizenfour
4 Star Empire Rating
Skeleton Twins, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Overnighters, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Fury
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Catch A Fire
Tim Robbins and Derek Luke are head to head in this South African Apartheid-era based drama.


submit to reddit


Plot
Apartheid South Africa, the early 1980s. Patrick (Luke) is a foreman at an oil refinery and a kids’ soccer coach. When the refinery is sabotaged he is arrested and brutally interrogated by the Police Security Branch, led by Colonel Nic Vos (Robbins).


Review
Catch A Fire

The line between terrorist and freedom fighter is inherently blurry. Win your struggle, and it turns out that you were glorious warriors for a better tomorrow. Lose, and it looks like you were a morally compromised renegade after all. In 1980s South Africa, the line depended entirely on your point of view — and it’s an abrupt shift in viewpoint that gives this moving and powerful true story its impact.
 
Derek Luke’s (in an outstanding, Oscar-worthy performance that’s been largely overlooked) Patrick Chamusso is a pretty stand-up guy. He’s good with kids, a hard worker and a good father. But the colour of his skin brings him into conflict with another family man, Nic Vos (Tim Robbins, in an amalgam of several real people), a police chief investigating an act of sabotage who fixes on Patrick as his suspect. Interrogation, torture and intimidation soon follow, and our carefree, non-political hero soon morphs into ANC rebel and insurgent-in-training.
 
The good-man-driven-to-extremes story has been done before, but rarely with the sensitive handling of director Phillip Noyce, who adds nuance to a situation generally accepted as a clear-cut case of good and evil. Chamusso is no saint — the one secret part of his life proves his undoing, and he’s optimistic to the point of blindness. And while Robbins’ canny detective exploits every shred of weakness in his prisoner and does not hesitate to use any weapon at his disposal, the film walks a fine line in refusing to utterly demonise him. The truth can bring reconciliation, it seems, only ifwe acknowledge that there are two sides to every story, and while Vos’ methods are monstrous, his motives are made all too comprehensible in one dinner scene: he, like Chamusso, is trying to protect his family.
 
But the film’s real sympathies are never in doubt: Chamusso’s radicalisation and emergence as a fully trained but plainly terrified ANC operative is swiftly sketched but all too credible, largely avoiding cliché. While the supporting characters are never more than sketches, and the tight plot becomes far too loose as we approach the final act, this is still a thought-provoking look at a turbulent time.


Verdict
An intelligent thriller that effectively conveys the message that terrorism, even in apartheid-era South Africa, is rarely a black-and-white issue.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Catch A Fire
Empire Star Rating

A more rounded and balanced movie than Blood Diamond; whilst both tackle different African themes, you can't help but feel that Catch A Fire was overlooked by the more Hollywood-going public and unfairly so, as Catch A Fire is far superior than Blood Diamond. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by McQueen at 09:48, 23 July 2007 | Report This Post


a diisapointment considering the talent involved- it is never an egaging film and got boring after first half ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 16:54, 09 April 2007 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 48% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire Meets Mike Leigh
On Mr. Turner, 007 and liver in lager

World War II Movies That Win At History
Seen Fury? Here’s what to watch next...

The 25 Shatneriest William Shatner Moments Of All Time
Prepare. For. Many. One. Word. Sentences.

Marvel Announces Phase Three Film Slate Up To 2019
Photos from the event and have a look at all the new movie logos

Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's 25 Greatest Scares
Monsters, ghosts, horrible old ladies: the scenes that have kept us hiding behind the sofa for the last 25 years. Warning: contains spoilers.

Empire's Interstellar Review
Read our official verdict on Christopher Nolan's science-fiction epic

The 40 Most Fearsome One-Man Armies In Cinema
When you absolutely, positively have to kill every last mutha in the room...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)