Invictus (2009)

This country’s changed. We need to change as well.

— François Pienaar

Since the announcement of Clint Eastwood on the next LAMB in the Director’s Chair, I am trying to watch more of his movies for the upcoming three-day fest. I thought I might kill two birds with one stone with seeing Invictus. Based on the novel, “Play the Enemy” by John Carlin, the movie tells the story of Nelson Mandela trying to unite the nation after Apartheid. This movie is getting some critical acclaim. I don’t see why it does.

Morgan Freeman channels Mandela as the movie chronicles five years in the life of Mandela beginning on February 11, 1990 when he was released after two decades of imprisonment. The country is torn apart by a civil war brewing between the Africans and the Afrikaans.

Mandela becomes president and when takes the office some of the white staff threaten to quit. The remnants of racial tensions are still thick in the air. Mandela needed to find a way to unit the country of South Africa as one. He goes to a rugby match where the Springbok rugby team, headed by François Pienaar (Matt Damon). The team is not doing their best.

Mandela wants to meet with the captain of the Springbok team to discuss how they could help the nation heal from Apartheid. The encouragement of Mandela inspires the team to train for the World Cup in 1995. Mandela almost pushes his presidential duties aside to focus on the rugby team and make them succeed.

I don’t know jack shit about rugby. It looks like American football to me without the figure hugging spandex. The biggest problem of the movie was that. Americans don’t care about sports that know nothing about. I thought I was going to see a movie about Mandela struggle to readjust to civilian life after a lengthy imprisonment, but I have to research that myself.

Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are getting some critical acclaim for this film. I thought that they were fine. Freeman looked like Mandela, but his accent slipped in and out when he monologued about retaining the Springbok’s colors or when Freeman did his signature voice-over. That took me out.

Matt Damon’s character was just there. He was the pawn for Mandela. Move here. Move there. You can win the World Cup if you do as I say. Mandela felt like he was obsessed with the team that he would risk his health and even the state of country in order for the Springbok to succeed.

I thought François was written like a caricature. There was nothing remarkable about him. I didn’t believe that he would lead a rugby team to the World Cup. (Oh, please, it’s not a spoiler. It’s history.) I couldn’t help but wonder if Matt Damon has a prosthetic nose. If he did, it was distracting.

Eastwood still delivers stunning visuals of the multiple fans in the Ellis Park Stadium watching the Springbok play. The mix of shadows and light is always great, but the film as a whole felt empty. In the climactic match, there was a lot of slow motion. Too much slow motion. Even the spectators watching the game were in slow motion. Why? That match was as slow as molasses.

Judgment: The movie was awkward, clunky and uninspiring. I was disappointed.

Rating: **

About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on December 21, 2009, in 2009, Academy Award Nominee, Biopic, Drama, Inspirational, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I soooo want to see this. I’ve played rugby for 9 years. Now I can’t because of an accident, but it is still my favorite sport.

  2. I have a friend that plays on an all female team. There are quite a few teams here in Michigan and she says it’s rather prevalent down in Miami as well.

    This is one of those movies that I don’t have interest in seeing till DVD even with so many good reviews. I still haven’t seen Milliondollar Baby either. Oh well.

  3. I was studying something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your perspective on it is diametrically opposed to what I read before. I am still pondering over the various points of view, but I’m tipped heavily toward yours. And no matter, that’s what is so good about contemporary democracy and the marketplace of ideas on-line.

  4. I eventually got to see this last night, and was totally taken in with how a sports team could have such an impact on a country and bring people together. Yes I am a massive sports fan, haha.

    • Well, someone enjoyed the film. It didn’t that much. Bored out of my mind with this movie. Such as shame, because I like Clint Eastwood and his films.

  5. Deon Oberholzer

    To the folk who did not enjoy the film – I am a South African and I cannot over-emphasize the value of this particular sports festival in our country’s transformation from an ‘apartheid’ regime to some semblance of democracy. I fully understand that the technical shortcomings of the film could prove intolerable to the ‘fundis’, but in the context of a largely ‘white’ team winning a world championship for a largely ‘black’ country, and considering the ‘bonding’ potential of the event and everybody involved in it, the film is worth it’s weight in gold – Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood went beyond the commercial demands of the ‘movie market’ – they courageously captured an extremely important moment in history on film – and I dare say all South Africans agree…!

    • I understand that the movie might have more impact on you, but not an American who doesn’t know the first thing about rugby. American audiences would not care about it.

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