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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. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke), an apolitical black South African who works at an oil refinery, becomes a freedom fighter for the ANC after a brutal run-in with a government terror squad. Patrick stages daring solo attacks against the apartheid regime, even as a policeman (Tim Robbins) worms his way into the lives of Patrick and his family.

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Critic Reviews for Catch a Fire

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (53) | 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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