In Travis Taute’s thriller Indemnity, a former firefighter must overcome the trauma of his past to uncover a global conspiracy. Set in Cape Town, South Africa, Theo Abrams (Jarrid Geduld) is a former firefighter who suffers from severe PTSD following a failed attempt to rescue a baby, where his partner died. The discouraged Theo saw 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 difficult at best.
Meanwhile, across town, disgruntled employee Sam (Abduragman Adams) is about to uncover a conspiracy involving 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 all over Cape Town. Unfortunately, the mole was captured by the company’s mysterious overlord and promptly tortured to death, revealing Sam’s identity.
Now on the run, Sam’s only hope is to get the information he stole from the press, which happens to be Theo’s wife, Angela. Sam tells Angela that Theo’s name is blacklisted by M-Tech, and that he should be careful. The next day (after a night of love), Sam discovers Angela lying next to him dead. Before you know it, the cops are at the door arresting Sam for the murder of his wife.
Due to Sam’s military background, he evades capture, and now Detective Rene Williamson (Gail Mabalane) and Deputy Chief Alan Shard (Andre Jacobs) are sent to find Sam. Will Sam be able to clear his name and find his wife’s killer?
“…disgruntled employee…about to uncover a conspiracy about his former defense contractor employer, M-Tech.
Indemnity is the South African entry into the thriller genre. Writer/director Taute’s film seems to fall within that mid-range action budget. The cinematography is good, but the film overall lacks big stunts and special effects. Instead, Indemnity leans into the plot story with decent melee combat and minimal gunplay.
What we have is a pretty average thriller. I remember The fugitive with Harrison Ford. Thrills come in the conspiracy as Theo stays one step ahead of the cops while infiltrating M-Tech for answers. Twists and twists are added for added excitement.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is central to this story. Theo is forced to face his trauma in order to uncover the plot. His PTSD becomes a weapon in ways I can describe for spoiler’s sake. I’ll just say that I didn’t see it coming, but probably should have, since the whole movie hinges on that reveal.
I have a few thoughts on this South African thriller. The first is how cool it is to watch a movie from South Africa, the cast is split between black and white actors (it doesn’t matter for the movie), and there’s a change between the English and Afrikaans in the dialogue depending on the setting of each scene. For example, family time is spoken in Afrikaans, and during work much of the dialogue is in English.
My other thought is just to think about the challenges that foreign films have trying to break into the United States. Indemnity is a film that hopes to break into a very crowded American market. It has no known names, but as an independent film from the United States, finds a way to increase its budget and build a story that does not offer street-destroying car chases or big explosions (resume that, there is a big explosion… CG explosion).
Big Hollywood has conditioned us to accept its big budget / CG-heavy Fast and furious thrillers as the norm. Indemnity, by no means meets those high standards, but tells the best story possible with what the filmmaker was given. The final product overcomes more than its weaknesses.