Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Indemnity, from South Africa

The uninterrupted one-party control of South African has definitely led to scandals that could provide plenty of raw material for some edgy political thrillers. Unfortunately, instead of delivering on that promise, this film mostly plays out like another competent remake Fred Cavaye’s Point Blank. (It isn’t really, but it might as well be.) Tragically, a PTSD-suffering firefighter is framed for his wife’s murder in director-screenwriter Travis Taute’s Indemnity, which releases this Friday on VOD.

Theo Abrams still blames himself for the deaths of his colleagues after a call went down badly. Of course, he wants to get back to firefighting, but his experimental shrink won’t clear him, because he isn’t ready to face his pain (or some such New Agey-
Star Trek V kind of sentiment). What happens next isn’t going to help.

After waking up next to his murdered wife, Abrams is nearly killed himself by a plant in the back of his police van. Suddenly he is on the run, being chased by a team of killers, who leave a trail of bodies in their wake. Naturally, the stupid cops, Det. Rene Williamson and Gen. Alan Shard, assume he did it all. However, if he can locate the Deep Throat-esque source, who contacted his now-late wife the day-before, maybe Abrams can start putting together the pieces.

Slight “spoiler:” it turns out the shadowy government conspiracy mastermind is out to counter China’s influence on the African continent. Seriously, it is the person opposed the super-power committing genocide against the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, stifling democratic dissent in Hong Kong, and crushing the ancient Tibetan language and culture who is the bad guy in Taute’s screenplay. That’s pretty lame, bordering on offensive (especially if you happen to be Uyghur, Tibetan, Mongolian, or a Falun Dafa practitioner).

The whole
Fugitive-Wrong Man innocent-man-chased-by-misguided-cops business is competent enough, but hardly original. Much has been made of the stunts. Again, it is all very nice, but nothing that would blow you away.

Jarrid Geduld broods hard as Abrams and his stunt work is impressive, but he is playing a one-note moody, traumatized character. Both Gail Mabalane and Andre Jacobs are probably more interesting as Williamson and Shard, because each cop evolves considerably, sometimes in contradiction of audience expectations. However, the villains are as dull as school cafeteria chipped beef.

There are some good fight scenes, but the tone is pretty grim and the silly conspiracy will make you roll your eyes. It just falls flat.
Number 37, produced by Taute, is a much more successful South African thriller. Not recommended, Indemnity releases this Friday (2/11) on VOD.