Catch A Fire

"Weak"

Catch A Fire Review


Aesthetically, Catch a Fire looks the same as most of Philip Noyce's recent work. The use of fire and light, often resulting in a very dark red and orange atmosphere, is still here. The political current is still strong, especially now because the setting is Africa while apartheid is in full swing. That being said, Catch a Fire also departs from Noyce's canon by marking the first time that much of the message and intrigue is right on the surface.

Derek Luke, in a much bigger role than he is accustomed to, plays Patrick Chamusso, a supervisor at a coal-to-oil refinery in Secunda, South Africa. He's not what you would expect from an African man under apartheid; he tells his mother to turn off the rebel radio and tells the workers under him (all black) to stop talking about the current state of affairs. After an attack at the oil refinery, Patrick is brought in with his friends for questioning by Nic Vos (Tim Robbins), the head of a local police syndicate. Vos, a family man, takes it too far when he brings in Chamusso's wife (Bonnie Mbuli) and beats her to get her to confess her husband's guilt. After this event, Chamusso joins up with a resistance (terrorist) group and begins to plot a huge blow to the South African economy.

Maybe the problem is that nothing really sticks out. Written with an obvious, tired pen by Shawn Slovo, Catch a Fire doesn't bring any particularly honest or brutal feelings to the table. The character of Vos, specifically, seems to have a fundamental flaw in its construction; as a family man, there's no real correlation between Vos' family and Chamusso's family, which he has torn asunder. Even so, we are asked to understand Vos because he's not quite hateful enough so that he seems cold-hearted; the act of terrorism that he thwarts actually seems like a heroic act. On the surface, it seems like a complex character, but the integral movements inside the character burn out way too quickly.

On the other hand, Luke's Chamusso has much more weight and is a more studied look at a flawed man. While Patrick seems like such a good husband, father, and coach (soccer), he also is having an affair that has yielded a child in another township. Luke rises to the challenges of these pitfalls, but Slovo's dialogue gets hammy and often reeks of trite pandering. Thankfully, Mbuli serves up grace as Patrick's conflicted wife and keeps their relationship as the film's one true strand of story.

Noyce doesn't particularly direct badly, but there is a genuine lack of excitement and provocation in his work here. The desolate atmosphere of loss and confusion from Rabbit-Proof Fence has been traded in for cheap thrills that don't explore racism's roots with even the slightest hint of discovery. If it was thrills the film was hoping for, he has seemingly lost all the sophistication and patience that made The Quiet American such an enrapturing experience. Here, the villains are clearly marked, but never with enough nuance or design to make them memorable, while the heroes are flawed but not to the point of challenging archetypes. But hey, at least it looks nice.

You aren't going to catch a fire with that old thing.



Catch A Fire

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Friday 27th October 2006

Box Office USA: $4.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $4.3M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Working Title Films, Mirage Enterprises, Studio Canal

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 107 Rotten: 35

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Nic Vos, as Patrick Chamusso, Bonnie Henna as Precious Chamusso, Mncedisi Shabangu as Zuko September, Tumisho Masha as Obadi, Sithembiso Khumalo as Sixpence, Terry Pheto as Miriam, Michele Burgers as Anna Vos, Mpho Lovinga as Johnny Piliso, Jessica Anstey as Katie Vos, Charlotte Savage as Marie Vos, Nomhlé Nkyonyeni as Mama Dorothy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.