Catch A Fire

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: -1

Tim Robbins, Derek Luke. Political action drama. Written by Shawn Slovo. Directed by Phillip Noyce.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American, Rabbit-Proof Fence) directs a political thriller about a South African family man wrongly accused of being a terrorist. After he and his wife are tortured and brutalized, he joins the terrorists (or as they are referred to here freedom fighters). The story takes place during that countrys turbulent and divided times in the early 1980s.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Propagandize: the spreading of ideas or information to further or damage a cause.
Agendum: a program of business to be done.
Tim Robbins: social-active actor with an agendum to propagandize.

Unlike most involved in the entertainment world, I dont profess great political insight. Not being a party member come rain or shine, I have examined our two-party political system with a jaundiced eye. It appears our political system, like any other, has become a breeding ground for those motivated by avarice, greed, and the need for power. Its difficult to put much trust in the political leaders of either party. And what a farce that after the likes of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, every four years we now vote for the lesser of two evils. I do find it interesting, however, that people with a left-leaning political bent see things less black and white than those of a conservative nature, at least until they have an agenda. Suddenly, there are no shades of gray. And that is the case with actor Tim Robbins and his newest film.

While I may be politically naive, I can see propaganda coming a mile off. And I simply cant remember a film with such a diabolical agenda. Im not referring to the narrow presentation of apartheid, but rather, the unrest Mr. Robbins and director Phillip Noyce seem determined to stimulate for unrests sake. Here, every single white person is portrayed as unfeeling, hostile or ignorant, while every black person is hard-working, family-loving and noble. Segregation and prejudice were dominant in South Africa before Father Mandela took power. That cant be refuted. And blacks were often brutalized as their white fellow countrymen fought to keep positions of authority. But this film refuses to portray any positive white figures. Every white man in this film is an unfunny Snidely Whiplash. Oh, no, there is one white guy who dances with the freedom fighters. Of course, hes a professional gun-runner/terrorist.

In Catch A Fire black freedom fighters (an activist group fueled by communist powers, called the ANC African National Congress) are very careful not to harm anyone, even though they sing about AK- 40s and grenades and taking back their country from the Boers. (The word Boers is never defined. In fact, nothing is defined. Its more like a 30s B-western where the good guys and bad guys were clearly defined by the color of their hat.) In truth, there were also whites killed in the struggle and, since the overthrow, many white South Africans (they were born there too) have been subjected to a reverse prejudice, many even losing their land. But thats one of those shades not dealt with in this film.

The films avoidance of balance causes me to be suspicious of the filmmakers intent. Of course, if you are one of those guilt-ridden Caucasians who like to flog themselves by purchasing tickets to castigating movies, then youre going to love this one. If you are Black, you are not being best served by half-truths or a film where every white man is your enemy.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Four obscenities (the f-and s-words)

Profanity: None

Violence: Several people are shot, a group of suspected terrorists is gunned down, slaughtered; a black child is forced to watch his father being beaten by white guards; several people are seen being tortured. Blood: Some blood as we see the aftermath of shootings and tortures.

Sex: The lead has a child by another woman other than his wife.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 102 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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