Barring the Bourne comparison I made when I posted the most recent trailer for Indemnity, I can earnestly say that the new espionage thriller from writer and director Travis Taute offers something much more authentic in its execution. There’s poetry even – the kind that can only be tapped into with solid writing and acting to boot, which is certainly what Taute aims to deliver for a film that might have been handled a lot less desireably if it were anyone else at the helm, to say the least.
The film opens as we meet Theo Abrams (Geduld), still suffering from psychological tramua as he’s been since forced into a leave of absence from his Cape Town fire brigade after losing two members of his squad months earlier. The residual affects of Theo’s condition frequently test the ever-shaky ground of his marriage with the loving Angela (Nicole Fortuin) and their son, Wesley (Qaeed Patel), and his continued hypnotherapy visits with Dr. Tunbridge (Susan Danford) continue to provide hopeful, albeit little results.
As the family drama between Theo and Angela shapens, Angela, herself a journalist, is contacted by Sam (Abduragman Adams), a man compromised and on the run from a team of hitmen after retrieving a chip containing sensitive information, and eager to reveal its findings to the public. Little would Angela, and the unknowing Theo, know that the chip would bring a grave turning point in their lives, as Theo is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and is slowly coming to the realization of just how much danger he’s in.
Now wanted for murder by Cape Town-wide law enforcement, and with a looming threat continues to put his friends and loved ones in the crosshairs, it’s up to Theo to awaken his instincts and confront his personal demons, while connecting the dots in order to unearth a global government conspiracy, and save what little hope there is of reuniting with his family once more.
Indemnity stamps another rare bookmark in South African genre cinema. It’s actually one advancement I’d been hoping to see, especially given the local stunt talent I’ve covered in The Hit List. Geduld’s performance lends a gripping vulnerability you can easily relate to as he punches and wrestles his way through every fight scene and harrowing moment.
More to the point, you can definitely see the work he’s put in, thanks in large part to steady cinematography that doesn’t try to experiment beyond its means, and instead focuses on properly filming Geduld and the rest of the actors involved in the action and stunts, assembled courtesy of Vernon Willemse and Grant Powell. It’s the kind of diligent work and restraint that’s nary practiced by nearly any Hollywood filmmaker looking to direct a film of this kind, which, by any measure, makes Taute’s latest accomplishment for Gambit Films something to appreciate.
The subplotting as we follow detective Williamson (Gail Mabalane) and police captain Shard (Andre Jacobs) adds further to the intrigue and looming uncertainty as to what lies ahead for Theo while struggling to identify between friend and foe. Thus, the pacing and energy of the story never lets up and the mystery will certainly leave you wanting more, as you stick with Theo in his seemingly-impossible battle against the odds.
There’s a certain poetry to Indemnity that also speaks inherently to the topic of trauma, its affects on us and our loved ones. The interwoven political thriller air of the film’s own title and setup is a brilliant invocation of the central subtext, with Wesley awoken one morning to a tooth and brushing off any toothfairy mythos the parents sheepishly try and hilariously fail to instill. It’s a minor, upworthy footnote leading up to the film’s end credits, one that admirably testifies to the belief in heroes, ourselves, and the power of redemption.
Indemnity screened as part of the 25th Fantasia International Film Festival whicn runs through August 25.