Posted by: Staff | 02.01.2010

Invictus Makes A Strong Showing, Despite Flaws


Released on December 11th, 2009, Invictus is a movie that crosses boundaries.  Not only in genre, as it’s half testosterone-fueled sports movie and half thoughtful political drama, but also in plot, telling the story of cultural recovery in post-Apartheid South Africa.  Clint Eastwood’s most recent directorial effort is a well-made but confused movie. 
    Plot is one area where Invictus suffers slightly.  It spends time following Nelson Mandela in his day-to-day affairs, watching the Springboks, the South African national rugby team in their preparations for the World Cup, and also a little time following Mandela’s newly formed, mixed-race security team.  Each different storyline is interesting and worthwhile, but the problem is that they are all too deep to fully explore in the running time of the film.  As a result the pacing can be shaky, swinging unpredictably from one plot to another.

    Luckily for Mr. Eastwood, the acting fares far better than the pacing and plot.  Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon co-stars as François Pienaar the captain of the Springboks.  Freeman does a wonderful job with Mandela.  He captures the charisma and strength of a man who led South Africa in such dark times but also performs with a great deal of nuance, displaying deep emotion and realistic flaws.  Damon really becomes his character.  His accent is only above average; however, it’s his dedication that’s so strong.  Whereas in the past I could always see a little glint of Matt Damon, in Invictus he falls comfortably into Pienaar and doesn’t show through.  The ensemble is also fantastic, proving that this cast has real depth.
    In the end, whether or not you like Invictus will come down to whether or not you can get past the shaky pacing.  There is awesome sports action and gripping human drama.  Something for everyone.  If you have patience, and you can get past some drawn-out sequences of day-to-day politics, you’ll really enjoy this movie.


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