In Travis Taute’s thriller, Indemnity, an ex-firefighter must overcome the trauma of his past to uncover a global conspiracy. Set in Cape Town, South Africa, Theo Abrams (Jarrid Geduld) is an ex-firefighter who suffers from severe PTSD from a botch rescue attempt of a baby, where his partner died. The despondent Theo has been seeing the department’s therapist, Dr. Tunbridge (Susan Danford). Still, his life at home with his wife, Angela (Nicole Fortuin), and son, Wesley (Qaeed Patel), has been rocky at best.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, disgruntled employee Sam (Abduragman Adams) is on the verge of uncovering a conspiracy about his former defense contractor employer, M-Tech. He was able to get the proof he needed from an M-Tech mole. They systematically killed or unjustly imprisoned a large group of random citizens throughout Cape Town. Unfortunately, the mole was captured by the mysterious corporate overlord and promptly tortured to death, revealing Sam’s identity.
Now one the run, Sam’s only hope is to get the information he stole to the press, which happens to be Theo’s wife, Angela. Sam tells Angela that Theo’s name is on the M-Tech’s hit list, and he should be careful. The following day (after a night of lovemaking), Sam discovers Angela lying next to him dead. Before you know it, the cops are at the door arresting Sam for his wife’s murder.
Because of Sam’s military background, he escapes capture, and now Detective Rene Williamson (Gail Mabalane) and Deputy Chief Alan Shard (Andre Jacobs) are sent to track down Sam. Can Sam clear his name and find his wife’s killer?
“…disgruntled employee…on the verge of uncovering a conspiracy about his former defense contractor employer, M-Tech.”
Indemnity is South Africa’s entrant into the thriller genre. Writer/director Taute’s film appears to be in that mid-range action budget. The cinematography is good, but the film overall lacks big money stunts and special effects. Instead, the film leans into the conspiracy story with decent hand-to-hand combat and minimal gunplay.
What we have is a pretty average thriller. I’m reminded of The Fugitive with Harrison Ford. The thrills come in the conspiracy as Theo stays a step ahead of the cops while infiltrating M-Tech for answers. Swerves and plot twists are thrown into for added excitement.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is at the heart of this tale. Theo is forced to confront his trauma in order to uncover the conspiracy. His PTSD becomes a weapon in a way that I can describe for spoiler sake. I’ll just say I didn’t see it coming but probably should have–considering the whole film sort of hinges on this reveal.
I have a few thoughts about this South African thriller. The first is just how cool it is to watch a film from South Africa, the cast is split between black and white actors (not a big deal to the film), and there’s a shifting between English and Afrikaans in the dialogue depending setting of each scene. For example, family moments are spoken in Afrikaans, and while on the job, much of the dialogue is English.
My other thought is just thinking about the challenges foreign films have trying to break out in the States. Indemnity is a film that hopes to break into a very crowded U.S. market. It has no known names, but like an indie film from the U.S., finds a way of making a budget stretch and building a story that offers no street-destroying car chases or big explosions (take that back, there is a big explosion…CG explosion).
Big Hollywood has conditioned us to accept its big money/CG-heavy Fast and Furious thrillers as the standard. Indemnity, by no means, meets these high standards but tells the best story it can with what the filmmaker was given. The final product more than overcomes its weaknesses.
"…his PTSD becomes a weapon..."