Katie Hogan takes a look at ‘Indemnity’, as part of FilmHounds’ Fantasia Festival coverage
Intense thrillers involving the government and the military conspiracies sounds like something straight out of Hollywood blockbuster, but this time, the focus is on Africa. The one man against the world, trying to save his family is a trope that is used across all genres and we’re all very familiar with it, but this is refreshing take from South African writer/director, Travis Taute who is getting flex his feature film muscles.
Fireman Theo is about to return back to work after taking mandatory leave after a horrific incident. Suffering from PTSD he tries to combat his pain with therapy and the support of his wife Angela and son Wesley. But when a man contacts Angela trying to reach Theo, setting in motion a series of death and destruction, he must find out what’s really going on before it’s too late.
There is quite a bit to unpack in this conspiracy laden thriller. Trying to track what our main character is going to do next and what is happening in the greater picture as well as the police investigating several angles, all is not what it seems. With double crosses and hidden agendas, the action is non-stop, with any interrogations or relations moments being cut short in favour of moving the story along, possibly too quick in some places. There isn’t really enough time spent with Theo and his family for us to build up an attachment to them, even Angela as she is given an important role right at the start. The moments where these relationships could have been built up are cut short. This also goes for other characters, such as the detectives on the case and the henchmen sent to dispose of certain people. Not everyone is given enough to surround their characters. Whether this was a conscious decision given the nature of the conspiracy and the fact that Theo is still has PTSD and can be an unreliable source of the truth, this lack of depth with each character might be on purpose.
Indemnity is a compelling and entertaining thriller, Taute could give Hollywood a run for its money. Jarrid Geduld who is makes more than impression as Theo, is definitely the most engrossing part of the film and carrying the weight of the story on his shoulders. With dynamic action sequences and familiar plot line, the film refreshes the genre, but just lacks more developed characters.