My Invictus review

Posted on December 16, 2009


*no spoilers*
Tis the season for warm-hearted movies about reconciliation. First The Blind Side, then Precious, and now Invictus (I have a feeling Avatar will be the same). All these movies share the common themes of hardship, cultural barriers, and racial healing. I guess there is no better gift than that during the holidays.

Invictus tells the story of Nelson Mandela as he is released from prison and is shortly elevated as president of South Africa in the early 90’s. Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, recognizes the opportunity to unite his fragmented country together using rugby. His plan was to inspire the World Cup underdogs to victory and his country to greatness.

Invictus is an enjoyable film, one part politics, one part racial reconciliation, and one part sports. Like The Blind Side, there is a little bit for everyone to enjoy. While the story is nothing less than amazing, Invictus is better in parts than as the whole. There are many strong scenes that make you shake your head in amazement because of the inspirational leadership of Mandela. However, despite memorable moments, Invictus leaks momentum throughout till it builds to an anti-climatic sports conclusion. It wasn’t bad enough to ruin the film but definitely you couldn’t help but feel the lost opportunity.

Morgan Freeman successfully channels the regal spirit of Mandela, without him there would be no movie. Matt Damon does a fine job as the rugby Captain Francois Pienaar. It wasn’t a stellar performance but he fit the part of the reluctant leader adequately.

My main complaint about Invictus falls on the shoulders of its director. As talented as Director Clint Eastwood is, you can see his inexperience with the sports genre. Being unfamiliar with rugby (like the rest of the western world) I found myself lost in the action of the game. I had no idea if a play was good or bad or what was at stake. It also didn’t help that some of the scenes were drawn out because of slow motion. So while the human drama was strong, Eastwood ‘dropped the ball’ with the sporting element of the film.

I am a sucker for true stories (actual photo above) and this really helps it’s mild success of this film. Like The Blind Side, you are a little more forgiving of the movie knowing it’s true life origins. So if you like one of the following; rugby, politics, racial reconciliation, Morgan Freeman, confusing sports scenes, or excessive slow motion- then go see Invictus.

Overall, I give it a 3 out of 5