Catch a Fire


Catch a Fire

Critics Consensus

No stranger to the political thriller, director Phillip Noyce tackles apartheid and terrorism with experienced gusto, while Derek Luke and Tim Robbins hand in nuanced performances.



Total Count: 146


Audience Score

User Ratings: 28,961
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Movie Info

Based on the real-life story of Patrick Chamusso, this political thriller spans the years from South Africa's turbulent 1980s to the present day. Patrick is an oil refinery employee and soccer player who is apolitical--until he and his wife are brutalized by government-sanctioned terror squads. Shocked into action, Patrick reorients his sense of self and purpose. Even as policeman Nic Vos further insinuates himself into the lives of Patrick and his family, Patrick becomes a rebel fighter and political operative, staging daring solo attacks against the brutal apartheid regime. Change must and will come, not only for South Africa but also for Patrick, Nic, and those closest to them.


Tim Robbins
as Nic Vos
Derek Luke
as Patrick Chamusso
Bonnie Henna
as Precious Chamusso
Mncedisi Shabangu
as Zuko September
Mpho Lovinga
as Johnny Piliso
as Pete My Baby
Jessica Anstey
as Katie Vos
Nomhle Nkonyeni
as Mama Dorothy
Nomhlé Nkyonyeni
as Mama Dorothy
Michael Mabizela
as Shaven Head Bomber
Robert Hobbs (II)
as Special Branch Lieutenant
Onthatile Ramasodi
as Lindiwe Chamusso
Ziizi Mahlati
as Albertina Chamusso
Malcolm Purkey
as Joe Slovo
Robyn Slovo
as Ruth First
Harriet Lenabe
as ANC Swaziland Operative
Harriet Manamela
as ANC Swaziland Operative
Susan Danford
as White Madam
Anthony Bishop
as Roadblock Police Commander
Justin Shaw
as Young Roadblock Policeman
Marius Weyers
as Police Brigadier
Martin Le Maitre
as Border Official
Richard Nwamba
as Mozambican Solider
Carel Trichardt
as South African Minister
Vanessa Cooke
as Widow at Mine Shaft
Lennox Mathabathe
as Angola Military Instructor
Kgosi Mongake
as Soccer Captain
Martin LeMaitre
as Border Official
Ian Roussouw
as Torture Policeman #1
Brandon Auret
as Army Commandant
Anrich Herbst
as Torture Policeman #2
Jet Novuka
as Black Security Branch Policeman
Sibusiso Mhlongo
as Passport Photographer
Eckard Rabe
as Secunda Security Chief
Dan Robbertse
as Secunda Security Guard
Waldemar Schultz
as Secunda Instructor
Mathoto Matsetela
as Pretty Girl at Phone Booth
Jabulani Ngwenya
as Soccer Boy
Kgaugelo Mpharala
as Soccer Player
David Tumahole
as Mozambican Corporal
Mantele Khomane
as Dancer at Wedding
Khutjo Mmola
as Female Railway Bomber
Dexter Nwanya
as Male Railway Bomber
Kholosa Tshandana
as Female Cadre with AK47
Makgano Mamabolo
as ANC Woman Typist
Jonathan Pienaar
as Mechanic in Swaziland
Grant Swanby
as Roadblock Policeman
Thabo Bopape
as Security Branch Policeman
Erno Van Dyk
as Security Branch Policeman
Dirk Vermeulen
as Security Branch Policeman
Johan Van Der Merwe
as Security Branch Policeman
Bongani Manok
as Security Branch Policeman
Mahlubi Kraai
as Security Branch Policeman
Neels Classen
as Blonde Policeman
Onalenna Mokoboto
as Patrick's Son
Patrick Chamusso
as Patrick Chamusso
as ANC Funeral Singer
Zamajobe Sithole
as Wedding Singer
Fiorha Ntshauba
as Backup Vocals
Siphokazi Maroqana
as Backup Vocals
Dolly Gaehler
as Backup Vocals
Erik Pilani
as Guitarist
Ezra Erasmus
as Pianist
David Mbatha
as Song Leader at Secunda Gates
Sindi Nontshinya
as Additonal Song Leader
Mirriam "Angela" Doshane
as Additonal Song Leader
Bongani Dlamini
as Freedom Singer
Bongani Maseko
as Freedom Singer
James Zuma
as Freedom Singer
Joseph Ngobeni
as Freedom Singer
Khali Phithi
as Freedom Singer
Malibongwe Yawu
as Freedom Singer
Sibongiseni Phakathi
as Freedom Singer
Thabo Magaretsa
as Freedom Singer
Veli Mavuso
as Freedom Singer
Vusi Simelane
as Freedom Singer
Zakhele Mabaso
as Freedom Singer
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Critic Reviews for Catch a Fire

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (109) | Rotten (37)

Audience Reviews for Catch a Fire

  • Mar 07, 2011
    In watching the compelling Apartheid-set bio-pic Catch a Fire, one cannot help but think back to Cry Freedom, Richard Attenborough's poignant but overlong portrait of slain non-violent South African activist Steven Biko (Denzel Washington) and his unlikely friendship with a white reporter (Kevin Kline). With Fire, director Phillip Noyce tackles the other side of the coin, chronicling the rise of an anti-apartheid "terrorist" and his antagonistic relationship with a white colonel, all within a breezy running time that keeps the action taut. In this R-rated South African-set thriller, hard-working family man Patrick Chamusso (Luke) truly turns revolutionary after he is wrongly accused and tortured for a crime by Police Security Branch operative Nic Vos (Robbins) in the early '80s. No stranger to political intrigue, Noyce (Patriot Games, Rabbit-Proof Fence) presents a 1980s-set true story made all the more timely by the events of September 11, a point he capitalizes on. After Vos (representing foreign govt.) tortures the innocent Chamusso (representing persecuted natives), the latter's motives for turning radically political become starkly obvious, paralleling a certain Western power's occupation of modern-day Iraq. Catch a Fire also gives a powerful combo in Robbins and Luke, who bring their respective characters' moral ambiguity to light with a gripping intensity--perhaps too well. Noyce shows us family man Chamusso's philandering while concurrently portraying Vos's nearly perfect home life with middling results. As the real-life Chamusso's appearance at the end makes clear, this is HIS story, not that of the top-billed Robbins. Perhaps, Focus Features just wanted to get their money's worth out of the Oscar-winner. Bottom line: Once you catch it, you won't let go.
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 07, 2010
    3 3/4's..Decent bio-drama. A little rough around the edges, but decently done. Derek Luke does a fine job. The story of what happened in this country is never a dull one.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2009
    Liloh: <i>And I realized nothing has changed. And I dont think South Africa will be ever Free from Whites and their terror against em.</I> This Movie was more than just a Movie. A great Friends recommendation and long review on her experience and the review on the movie made me watch this Movie twice. Thank you Lilo
    Wahida K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2009
    A well-documented thriller that features a powerhouse performance from Derek Luke as a man descending into hatred and rebellion after government wrecks his ideal life apart. Robbins gives a very restrained performance in this one, a little too restrained for my taste, however, this movie is all about Luke. It's a familiar setting, with a few turns in the plot that I didn't completely buy into, however, the positives outweigh the negatives here. The ending packs a swift emotional blow, especially seeing Luke being able to interact with the real Patrick Chamusso at the end of the film.
    Dan S Super Reviewer

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