Wednesday, January 13, 2010
INVICTUS / ***½
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: December 11, 2009
Running Time: 132 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clint Eastwood said that “Gran Torino” would be his last film as an actor. While that is in and of itself a tremendous loss, Clint Eastwood the director has surpassed Clint Eastwood the actor, with amazing films like “Unforgiven,” “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.” His directing style is straightforward and inherently cinematic, and he has emerged as one of the all time greats in the twilight of his years.
His latest effort is the sports drama “Invictus,” which stars Morgan Freeman as former South African President Nelson Mandela (as if anyone else could have played him). Mandela’s primary goal is to heal the wounds of apartheid and unify the blacks and whites of South Africa. He sees the rugby team, the Springboks, as a way to do exactly that. To that end he enlists the help of the Springboks captain, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon). He wants the Springboks to win the Rugby World Cup, which given the team’s record, seems like an impossible feat.
Mandela is a truly amazing person, and his efforts to unify South Africa through forgiveness and understanding are undeniably inspirational. When many try to influence him to change the Springbok name and the colors of their uniforms, which are symbols of apartheid, he resists. Instead he encourages those wanting a change to forgive, because changing the name would alienate another whole group of people, thus stunting his unification efforts. When someone refers to this as a political calculation, Mandela instead refers to it as “a human calculation.”
This is a unique setup for what on the surface could be viewed as the usual inspirational sports movie, but with so much more at stake “Invictus” rises above most films in its genre. Freeman delivers an excellent performance, and Damon performs admirably as well in a bit of a subdued role. Eastwood, along with cinematographer Tom Stern and editors Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach do an excellent job showing the rugby scenes, making them feel brutal and exciting.
“Invictus” is the kind of movie that does everything it does really well. I would expect nothing less from a master like Clint Eastwood.
Theater: RDM Westroads 14, Omaha, NE
Time: 330 pm
Date: December 13, 2009