Catch a Fire


Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32

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Critic Reviews

  1. 67
    It's always odd to see Robbins, a political activist in his own right, playing at villainy, but here he descends into the role so thoroughly that the lopsided smile becomes less a notation of cockeyed boyishness than a treacherous Cheshire smirk.
  2. Both a condemnation of torture as a political tool and a tribute to the bravery that exists within everyone.
  3. 63
    In Catch a Fire Noyce has caught the holy spirit. The movie is a thriller that wants to lift you up.
  4. Fire shows what happens when a government systematically denies rights to one racial group for decades, but its message is more current.
  5. Philip Noyce's anti-apartheid drama is tense and thoughtful, if somewhat marred by Hollywood-style thrills.
  6. With the same affinity for stories of culture clash he showed in "The Quiet American" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence," director Phillip Noyce embraces the tale with gusto.
  7. The young American actor (Derek Luke) gives such an intense, passionate performance as South African Patrick Chamusso that he just about dares you not to be involved with the tale he is telling.
  8. 75
    Screenwriter Shawn Slovo -- whose white parents were anti-apartheid activists in South Africa -- ends his finely tuned screenplay on a note not of violence and anger but of forgiveness. It's a breathtaking coda that reminds us of that undeniable human beauty: the ability to survive, to fight for right -- and then move peacefully on.
  9. The movie belongs to Luke, who brings the heroic Chamusso to life as richly as Forest Whitaker does the evil Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."
  10. 75
    Luke, who seems to have been marking time since his impressive debut in the title role of Denzel Washington's "Antwone Fisher" four years ago, is fiercely good as this reluctant warrior and devoted family man.
  11. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Luke has real movie-star power. He's enormously sympathetic, but this moving, well-crafted movie, written by Shawn Slovo, mercifully doesn't turn him into a plaster saint.
  12. Luke, who had the title role in Denzel Washington's directorial debut, "Antwone Fisher," is that rare actor who can convey profound inner conflict with just a look in his eye; his performance is attuned, astute and remarkable.
  13. 67
    Whatever you make of the film's politics, Luke makes a vivid impression in his most substantial role since "Antwone Fisher," and Robbins resists the temptation to make the thinly written Vos a villainous caricature.
  14. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    Right off the bat, Catch a Fire distinguishes itself from other recent international productions about Africa (including The Constant Gardener and The Last King of Scotland) in that it is actually told from an African perspective.
  15. 75
    Catch a Fire isn't edgy like some of Noyce's previous titles nor is it a big-budget endeavor with A-list stars. Instead, it's a simple and sincere tale of inspiration.
  16. This deeply moving and disturbing film derives power from being based on the true story of a black South African who does everything possible, no matter how degrading, to get by within an immoral system, but becomes radicalized almost despite himself.
  17. The movie is flawed and doesn't completely come off as a convincing biography, but its heart is in the right place, it has moments of poignancy and power, and it makes a pleasant change of pace for a genre that essentially has become a cry of despair.
  18. Catch a Fire paints the period with a double-sided brush that gives yesterday its due and puts today on notice.
  19. Comparisons to "Hotel Rwanda" make sense up to a point - both feature heroes who have the scales removed from their eyes - but "Fire" is no tearjerker, and here the story of Chamusso's conversion serves mainly as prologue to the main plot, a history-tinted cat-and-mouse policier in which he will attempt to finish the job he was wrongly accused of starting.
  20. 63
    Luke gives a powerful performance -- with his looks and talent, he should be a much bigger star -- but Robbins is the one you'll remember. Fixed with the faraway look of a doomed man who knows the center cannot hold, he gazes fearfully toward a future he knows is coming and can do nothing to stop.
  21. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Though preachy at times, Catch a Fire is a well-constructed action thriller elevated by Luke's performance.
  22. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    An affecting story of punishment and crime, of betrayal and redemption marred by preachiness and a treacly ending, Catch a Fire is notable for its refusal to see things in terms of black and white.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Mar 26, 2015
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. What is especially great about the film, is the very last scene, in which it starts out as Derek Luke as Patrick Chamusso, and finishes with the real-life Chamusso speaking. This is extremely effective in driving the point home that these events really occurred and that there are people out there who strive to make a difference in their environment. Full Review »
  2. Aug 11, 2011
    Apartheid movies. I went into this one thinking that if youâ
  3. JasonE.
    Mar 7, 2007
    Despite its obvious well-meaning humanistic intentions, "Catch a Fire" remains mired in genre trafficking despite its ambitions to convey the Despite its obvious well-meaning humanistic intentions, "Catch a Fire" remains mired in genre trafficking despite its ambitions to convey the power of self-realization. By repeatedly flushing the screen with the hopeful, joyous chantings/dances of the saintly natives he overshadows the smaller personal story of one man's triumphs over his own mild-mannered acquience to the injustices that plague his nation. Robbins adds a stern introspection that adds slight dynamicism to this otherwise didactic tale. Full Review »