Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Catch a Fire

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving torture and abuse, violence and brief language.
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references, including adultery
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking
Violence/Scariness:Terrorism, torture
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

A sizzling performance by Derek Luke ignites this story about Patrick Chamusso, a South African oil refinery worker who became caught up in the fight against apartheid.


Chamusso who did his best to stay out of trouble and care for his family. But as Trotsky said, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Wrongly accused of a terrorist attack at the refinery, he is captured and tortured. But it is when his wife Precious (Bonnie Henna) is also tortured that he becomes committed to doing anything he can — anything that is necessary — to bring down the racist regime. He leaves his family and goes to Mozambique to join the rebellious ANC forces and under their direction returns to plant a bomb in the refinery.


Tim Robbins plays secret police chief Nic Vos. Like Chamusso, fear for his family leads him to do terrible things. “Twenty-three million blacks to three million whites. We’re the underdogs. We’re the ones under attack,” he says. He has convinced himself that he is not a monster because he draws a line; he will not hold a man he knows to be innocent. But he is willing to torture people he knows to be innocent. He does not seem to do it because he thinks he will get information from them or frighten them away from fighting the system. He seems to do it to convince himself that these people are less than human. He does it to convince himself that he must do it.


If Vos is not a monster, Chamusso is not a saint. He has no alibi the first time he is captured because he was with an old girlfriend, the mother of his child, and his wife may leave him if she finds out. His pride and fear and her jealousy lead to imprisonment, torture, separation, and rebellion. Chamusso emphasizes that the acts he undertakes are designed to blow up equipment, not to injure anyone. But one side’s freedom fighter is the other side’s terrorist, and many people on both sides are killed. The worst betrayal Chamusso faces is not racism but something much more personal. And the biggest challenge he faces is not racism — or fear, or torture, or guns — but forgiveness.


Luke’s African accent is understated and his effortless grace shows real star power. He is utterly convincing and utterly compelling as an easy-going man devoted to his family who is transformed into someone who believes he has nothing left to lose. His performance is all the more wrenching because he resists the temptation to showboat. There are no heroics here, no grimaces of resignation and dedication. His emotions are complex, but they are pure.

Parents should know that this movie includes disturbing scenes of torture and terrorism. Many characters are killed. There is brief strong language and some drinking. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of the agonizing consequences of apartheid.


Families who see this film should talk about the origins of apartheid and the extraordinary story of Nelson Mandela and the non-violent transition to democracy. They should learn about South Africa’s pioneering Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a tribunal that focused on integrity and validation rather than retribution. What did Vos want most? What did Chamusso want? How did each explain to themselves and their families what they were doing? There is more information about the real-life Patrick Chamusso here.


Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Cry Freedom, with Denzel Washington as Steven Biko, Sarafina, Master Harold…And the Boys, and Hotel Rwanda.



Previous Posts

List: My Favorite Movie Ghosts
Happy Halloween! Here are ten of my favorite movie ghosts.  (NOTE: Some of these have inferior remakes -- stick with the originals.) Topper Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are the most s

posted 8:00:42am Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

List: Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell is one of the most versatile leading me in Hollywood. This week, he stars with Keira Knightley in "Laggies," playing a single dad. Here are some of my favorite Sam Rockwell performances: Moon Rockwell takes on the biggest possible acting challenge -- he in alone on screen for the ent

posted 3:50:02pm Oct. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Lauren Bradshaw's Terrific New "Before They Were Famous" Column
My friend and fellow critic Lauren Bradshaw has a great new series on the very earliest appearances by some of Hollywood's biggest stars. You can see Emma Stone, Brad Pitt, and Jessica Chastain in their very first roles, and give her suggestions for who she should report on next.

posted 8:00:27am Oct. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Big News From Marvel: Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Much, Much, MUCH More
Wow, Marvel really knows how to make an announcement. Get out your calendars: May 6, 2016: Captain America: Civil War Nov. 4, 2016: Doctor Strange May 5, 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 July 28, 2017: Thor: Ragnarok Nov. 3, 2017: Black Panther May 4, 2018: Avengers: Infinity War – Part I Ju

posted 6:46:42pm Oct. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Nell Scovell Pays Tribute to the Under-Used Women Alumnae of SNL
The wonderful Nell Scovell, who helped Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg write Lean In and is now working on a screenplay based on the book, has an excellent essay in Time about the talented women who appeared on "Saturday Night Live" but never transitioned to the kind of high-profile careers that some of

posted 3:37:33pm Oct. 28, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.