Catch a Fire Reviews

Top Critic
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
March 23, 2007
At its best when making the most of the conflicts at the heart of apartheid.
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
November 1, 2006
Despite Mr. Noyce's attempt to achieve a sense of balance and restraint, the material covers an overly familiar landscape with no special insight or sense of purpose.
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
November 1, 2006
Catch a Fire ignites, incites and informs as few other movies of the fall do.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
November 1, 2006
Catch a Fire is confident enough to depict the battle from all sides.
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
October 31, 2006
[The film is] complex. It's rich. I think it's well-done.
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 28, 2006
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
October 28, 2006
Robbins tips the balance with his one-dimensional performance, and the earnest script follows in kind, settling for the sort of paternalistic take on black power and dignity that has dogged virtually every film like this.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Carla Meyer
Dallas Morning News
October 28, 2006
Patrick Chamusso, the refinery foreman played by Derek Luke in Catch a Fire, brims with energy, whether he's dancing to a Donna Summer song or coaching the local youth soccer team.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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John Hartl
Newsweek
October 27, 2006
Smoothly directed by Phillip Noyce, the movie relies heavily on well-staged action sequences and two gifted actors to keep its familiar tale from appearing stale.
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Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
October 27, 2006
Noyce's straightforward, almost documentary style is especially effective, considering that so many incidents happened pretty much the way they're portrayed.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
October 27, 2006
Although Catch a Fire was clearly done for the right reasons, the movie dissipates its own tensions.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
October 27, 2006
A political thriller that thankfully sidesteps the offensive convention of exploring Africa's suffering through the eyes of a white protagonist.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jeff Shannon
Seattle Times
October 27, 2006
As long as there's oppression anywhere, well-told stories like this will always be relevant.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
October 27, 2006
Thanks to a terrifically shaded performance by Robbins, Vos comes across as a complex character with clearly ambivalent feelings about his task and his place in the apartheid system.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
October 27, 2006
Phillip Noyce is admirably restrained in his filmmaking; where other directors would assault the senses, he underplays the beatings Patrick endures without graphic detail.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
October 27, 2006
Catch a Fire could spark a few with this incendiary notion: Torture breeds terrorists.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
October 27, 2006
Catch a Fire is really a story of tangled loyalties, rather than the political thriller it is being dubiously sold as.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
October 27, 2006
Catch a Fire blurs the distinction between labels and resonates through today's global conflicts. More importantly, the film offers a taste of the desperation and fear behind the restrictions and the cruelty that whites forced on blacks.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
October 27, 2006
Thanks to its incisive script and the excellent performances of Luke and Robbins, its primary characters are not just black and white, literally or figuratively, but instead are shaded and multidimensional, battling demons and conflicted as hell.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
October 27, 2006
Catch a Fire may not substantially expand our understanding of the apartheid era, but the look and feel of South Africa pervade this film, giving it enough vibrancy and impact to compensate for what feels familiar.
| Original Score: B
Top Critic
Michael Booth
Denver Post
October 27, 2006
The remarkable South African story Catch a Fire is more than capable of raising and exploring resonant political questions in a Western world obsessed with terrorism.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Bill Zwecker
Chicago Sun-Times
October 27, 2006
Having first burst on the scene in his groundbreaking title role in Antwone Fisher, Luke delivers here a top-notch performance that is nuanced and layered, with just the right emotional punch.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
October 27, 2006
Phillip Noyce's Catch a Fire shares its name with the classic Bob Marley record. The record is better.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Joanne Kaufman
Wall Street Journal
October 26, 2006
An affecting story of punishment and crime, of betrayal and redemption marred by preachiness and a treacly ending, Catch a Fire is notable for its refusal to see things in terms of black and white.
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
October 26, 2006
Ultimately, [director Phillip Noyce] does a pretty good job of telling us the cost of freedom; he just can't quite put us inside the skin of the people who had to pay it.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
October 26, 2006
Catch a Fire is a well-constructed action thriller elevated by (Derek) Luke's performance.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
October 26, 2006
It's possible to see a deeper level to what's on screen but, regardless of whether or not a viewer chooses to engage the film in that way, it's an effective piece of cinema.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
October 26, 2006
Derek Luke, best known for his Independent Spirit Award-winning lead performance in Antwone Fisher, brings a maturity, gravity and even fury to his richest role to date.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
October 26, 2006
The film never strays much beyond the obvious.
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
October 26, 2006
Luke is fine in the lead, proving that his good work in Antoine Fisher was no fluke.
| Original Score: B
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
October 26, 2006
The characters are not plot-serving constructs, so they behave in ways that are often contradictory, much like real people.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
October 26, 2006
The director Phillip Noyce revisits the ordeal of an ordinary black South African who became a foot soldier in the war against apartheid.
| Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
October 26, 2006
What's most riveting about Catch a Fire is the truth from which it springs.
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 26, 2006
[Dirctor Phillp Noyce's] goal earns him empathy. But the film goes further than that, creating an absorbing portrait of a peaceful, well-meaning man who is mistreated at every turn until he finally strikes back.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
October 26, 2006
Philip Noyce's anti-apartheid drama is tense and thoughtful.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Jan Stuart
Newsday
October 26, 2006
Director Philip Noyce and screenwriter Shawn Slovo lean heavily into the thriller aspects of Chamusso's story, leaving much of the nuance to actors Derek Luke, Bonnie Henna and Tim Robbins.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jessica Reaves
Chicago Tribune
October 26, 2006
The action, political intrigue and marital tensions (which prove critical as the story unfolds) never quite coalesce into a compelling whole.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
October 26, 2006
The movie is poorly made -- both too simple and too opaque.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
October 26, 2006
As out-of-Africa dramas go these days, Catch a Fire is downright old-fashioned, a liberal political thriller about a noble black man who stands up to a white imperial monster.
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
October 25, 2006
Phillip Noyce embraces the tale with gusto, lighting up a picture that is as much a taut action saga as it is a cautionary history lesson.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Robert Wilonsky
Village Voice
October 24, 2006
It's the story of Patrick Chamusso, who intended no harm till harm was done to him. Fact is, he could be just about anyone anywhere -- South Africa, the Middle East, right next door.
Top Critic
James Adams
Globe and Mail
September 23, 2006
This one's a nail-biter, a fast-paced, compulsively watchable political thriller.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
John DeFore
Hollywood Reporter
September 13, 2006
Impending history and potent music energize this Apartheid-era suspense film.
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
September 13, 2006
Stories of resistance to oppression will never become obsolete, but this feels like a picture that should have been made a long time ago.