Catch a Fire
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In 1980, while most of South Africa is struggling with apartheid, Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke) lives a normal life. He has a good job as a foreman at an oil refinery. In his spare time, he coaches soccer. He has two daughters and a beautiful wife, Precious (Bonnie Henna). While others talk of Freedom Fighters and war against the Boers, Patrick prefers to stay away from anything political.

But one day everything changes for Patrick. After a bomb is set off at the refinery, Patrick is arrested and brought in for questioning—even though he’d called in sick at work that day, so he could be with is soccer team as they competed in the championships. While he’s being questioned, he meets Nic Vos (Tim Robbins), the anti-terrorism officer who’s in charge of the interrogation. Eventually, Vos is convinced of Patrick’s innocence, and he lets Patrick go—but not before doing everything he can to try to force a confession.

After he’s set free, Patrick realizes he’s become a different man. He can’t just go back to his life as it was before—and he can’t just ignore the political issues at hand. So Patrick decides to leave his family and travel to Mozambique to train with the African National Congress and fight against the government that wrongly accused him and his friends.

Catch a Fire is a moving film that’s sure to stir up at least a little bit of emotion in every member of the audience. Not only is Patrick based on a real person but he feels real on screen as well—thanks, in part, to Luke’s powerful performance. Beyond that, the story is multi-faceted, making it more than just a political movie. For instance, Patrick’s alibi is complicated by the fact that, on the night of the refinery explosion, he was visiting a woman from his past—the mother of his son. And the mistakes he made in the past end up making his decisions even more difficult.

That doesn’t mean, though, that Catch a Fire is without its share of flaws. While Luke’s character is well-developed, Robbins’ character leaves much to be desired. Granted, Patrick is the focus of the film, but viewers don’t really get to know much about Vos, Patrick’s adversary. The film would have been even more powerful if an actor as talented as Robbins had had the opportunity to make Vos more three-dimensional.

Despite that—and the fact that the film loses a bit of its steam in the end—Catch a Fire is a strong drama that will inspire even the most apolitical of viewers. It’s not necessarily a must-see, but it’s well worth a couple hours of your time.

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