Invictus Review

10 Dec

The latest installment of Clint Eastwood’s late career run, Invictus is the story of South Africa’s struggle with racial tensions and a new national identity, set against the backdrop of the Rugby World cup.  It is not a sports movie, there is very little emotional suspense built through the rugby matches themselves. Rather the film is an examination of the uniting power of national sports competitions, in the politically turbulent post-apartheid era of Nelson Mandela.

Morgan Freeman carries the film with an oscar worthy performance as the idealistic and conciliatory Mandela, balancing white fears against newly found power. Freedman and Eastwood display Mandela as a humanist peacemaker, whose concern for rugby is born from his desire to unite the nation under a common interest. Enter Francois Pienaar, captain of the springbok (named so for their green and yellow uniforms), played somewhat unevenly by Matt Damon. 

While the focus of the film is squarely on Mandela, Piennaar has a significant supporting role and Damon’s sometimes Australian with a hint of Irish turned British accent doesn’t match Freeman’s superior performance.  But that is really the problem of Invictus, it’s a steady and methodical film carried by Freedman with everything else not equalling his performance.

That being said, you’ll find yourself enveloped in the inspiring story telling and moved by the harsh realities of South African life in the 90’s. The climatic match against the All-Blacks of New Zealand, brought cheers and boughts of clapping from the audience, despite the lack of athletic drama.

Though at times oddly paced with unclear story direction, Eastwood takes the reins with a straight forward style that seems to reflect his early roles in the Fist Full of Dollar’s trilogy. On the whole Invictus is a solid film that lives up to its billing, but it won’t be this year’s oscar standout.

Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Julian Lewis Jones, Adjoa Andoh, Patrick Mofokeng. Directored by Clint Eastwood, off the Anthony Peckham script; based on the book “Playing the Enemy” by John Carlin. Produced by: Clint Eastwood, Lori McCreary, Robert Lorenz. Warner Bros. Running time: 134 minutes.

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2 Responses to “Invictus Review”

  1. jmmnewaov2 December 12, 2009 at 1:17 am #

    I am amazed how many comments and reviews include a statement that Damon’s Afrikaner’s English didn’t quite sound right.

    Or as we read in the past, DiCaprio’s Danny Archer didn’t hit the notes all the time. He missed more than a few.

    These are actors not linguists. An actor at best may become the character and have all the right motivations in his performance, but only a true mimic can nail an accent correctly throughout an entire movie.

    Damon’s performance shouldn’t be measured against Freeman’s anyway. Damon was brought onboard to sell tickets not because he could pass as a Afrikaner.

    Besides that, elsewhere I read that people were unhappy with Freeman’s Mandela accent as well.

    But having vented on those topics your review has a nice pace and flow to it. It a good read. Thanks for your effort.

    My own comments with pics about Invictus are here:
    http://jmmnewaov2.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/invictus-clint-eastwoods-new-film/

  2. cmrok93 January 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    Inspirational but not very different from other films of this nature.

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