Verdict: 3.5 / 5
“When there’s no one to trust, trust yourself”.
Cape Town is known for many beauties, but it’s what’s in our waters that strike foreign interest most. Countless articles have been written and pleading for government and law officials to stop abalone smuggling, but money buys silence, a blind eye and willing labour. McKenzie puts to screen the cracks of these cunning schemes masked behind the false security and titles.
Township undercover cop Sizwe Miya (Tony Kgoroge) investigates an abalone smuggling case connected to a Triad murder victim washed up on shore. Sizwe sees it as a promotion opportunity and further investigation unveils dark secrets. This is not his turf, and Sizwe’s boss Venske (Deon Lotz) warns him that it’s no easy open and shut case. Venske has organised a early promotion hearing for Sizwe, bearing in mind that his past record might come into question, but reassures him he’s current work should show true promise. Aside Venske orders Sizwe’s rookie Legama (Thomas Gumede) to report back everything Sizwe does and discovers. Meanwhile struggle comrade and kingpin character Specialist (Fana Mokoena) thanks Sizwe for helping keep the competition at bay with frequent drug busts, so that only his clubs and dealers to flourish. As a reward Specialists, gives Sizwe the location of a mass abalone load transport, guaranteeing his promotion of detective. Gunfire, car chases, tip offs and fatalities are sure to follow. Nothing is ever that easy, nor is all the cards on the table as many of the key players smirk in the shadows.
With the subtle reveals of character back stories and questionable dealings, the audience grows more sceptical of its hero and to some extent so does he. Siwze is faced with many temptations, half truths, unfortunate fatalities that seems to foretell a bleak outcome.
Cold Harbour is Kgoroge’s fist local leading feature. We’ve seen him in many international productions like Invictus, but this role was written with him in mind and he definitely delivers. He even does his own stunts in the film, of which there are plenty. He even goes at it with former Mauythai champion Quentin Chong in a scene that made me go… “wait this is a local film right?”. Kudos! Along with his SAFTA winning co-stars Lotz and Mokoena, undoubtedly among our more esteemed local actors, and ofcourse multi-award winning Nan, the whole cast manages to breathe life into their characters with a sense of sophistication. No one, steals the spot light as a truly strong ensemble is able to maintain credibility and quality for the story to unfold.
Recognisable shots of Cape Town, and the less picturesque locations, successfully comment on the characters, the distrust, corruption, self-interests and always evident distant atmosphere. The cold, hard colours and textures, lots of greys, off whites, faded blues and blacks, echoe this nicely. Furthermore, the music selection doesn’t overpower or enforce that local element to the point of distraction, as so many of our films tend to do. Instead, Spoek Mathambo and Chris Letcher keeps it subtle and complimentary to the various scenes.
Cold Harbour will screen at the Durban Film Festival 19 July and opens in cinemas nationwide on 25 July.