'Catch A Fire' is a frighteningly real account of the atrocities that were perpetrated during the Apartheid regime in South Africa. And although it is predominantly one man's story, it represents the struggles of so many people like him, many of whom didn't live to tell the tale, such was the barbaric treatment they were subjected to.
Patrick Chamusso (Luke) is a family man, originally from Mozambique but now living in Secunda, South Africa. He works hard as a foreman at an oil refinery, to provide for his wife Precious (Henna) and their two young daughters. Liked by all, he even coaches the local boys football team. And in times of political upheaval, he manages to steer clear of protest groups, illegal organisations and operations in favour of a law-abiding life. But sometimes trouble has a way of finding you, no matter how hard you try to avoid it - and Patrick certainly isn't one to seek it out.
When Colonel Nick Vos (Robbins) of the Security Branch begins sniffing around for information regarding acts of sabotage it seems that he is hell-bent on getting answers, even from the wrong people. He believes Patrick to be a member of the banned African National Congress (ANC), a claim that Patrick denies vehemently, even after his arrest and torture. But with an alibi that is far from watertight, and which could possibly land him in more trouble, he is in danger of falling victim to the worst of punishments.
Held in captivity without being charged with any crime, offered no legal assistance and later witnessing his family being tortured leads to a change in Patrick. He emerges from his lock-up a determined man, who wants some kind of justice for those left by their captors in boxes and body bags.
'Catch A Fire' makes for uneasy viewing, not because of the nature of the violence and torture portrayed (as much is implicit) but because of your haunting sense of awareness that this is someone's very painful real-life story, and worse still, the story of countless others.
Derek Luke plays the broken-spirited Patrick with a convincing ease – capturing his gentle nature as well as his resolute side. Tim Robbins also turns in a superb performance as the unfeeling agent, who callously lures his prisoners into a false sense of security and turns a blind eye to the viciousness of the crimes against humanity, happening right under his nose.
'Catch A Fire' is wonderfully shot and employs fine acting talent. Its story too is an important one, that should not be forgotten.