Powerfully telling the story of a South African hero's journey to freedom, Catch a Fire is the new film from director Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American, Rabbit-Proof Fence). The political thriller takes place during the country's turbulent and divided times in the early 1980s, and in the new South Africa of today.
Derek Luke portrays real-life hero Patrick Chamusso. Patrick is a charming and loving husband to his wife Precious (Bonnie Henna), and a caring father to his two young daughters. He works as a foreman at the centrally located Secunda oil refinery, which is a symbol of South Africa's self-sufficiency at a time when the world was protesting the country's oppressive apartheid system. In his spare time, Patrick coaches a local boys' soccer team. Carefully toeing the hard line imposed on blacks by apartheid, Patrick is completely apolitical.
Academy Award winner Tim Robbins plays Nic Vos, a Colonel in the country's Police Security Branch. The shrewd and charismatic Vos strives to maintain order in volatile situations, which have become more and more frequent as the outlawed activist organization African National Congress (ANC) rallies blacks against apartheid. Vos is also concerned for the safety of his wife and two daughters. He and his family live a world away from the Chamusso family…
…until the innocent Patrick comes under suspicion and is arrested (in June 1980) for sabotage of the Secunda oil refinery. His alibi is compromised, and Patrick is desperate to shield Precious from a past indiscretion and keep his job. But he is ill-prepared to withstand brutal interrogations by Vos' men. As Vos further insinuates himself into the lives of the Chamussos, to Patrick's shock and shame, Precious herself is jailed and tortured. Although he and Precious are soon released from custody, Patrick is stunned into action and completely reorients his sense of self and purpose. He leaves his family to join up with the ANC.
Becoming a rebel fighter and political operative, Patrick is radicalized on behalf of his people and his country. He ultimately envisions a formidable and dangerous follow-up strike against the Secunda refinery, risking his own life and future. Change must and will come, for Patrick and his family, and for South Africa itself.